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Won’t allow trees to be felled for VVIP bungalows in Bhopal, citizens vow

For the past ten days, citizens, students, and green activists have been campaigning against what they call a plan by the MP Housing Board to construct bungalows for MLAs and bureaucrats by clearing trees at Shivaji Nagar and Tulsi Nagar, one of the greenest patches in the city.
Last Updated : 15 June 2024, 11:28 IST

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Bhopal: Hundreds of Bhopal residents have joined hands to save over 27,000 trees that they fear would be chopped to make space for VVIP bungalows in the city, even mulling to launch a protest akin to the ‘Chipko Andolan’.

A top Madhya Pradesh government official, however, said on Saturday that no such plan has been finalised.

For the past ten days, citizens, students, and green activists have been campaigning against what they call a plan by the MP Housing Board to construct bungalows for MLAs and bureaucrats by clearing trees at Shivaji Nagar and Tulsi Nagar, one of the greenest patches in the city.

Many of them, including women and a BJP MLA, worshipped and clung to trees on Friday vowing to protect them.

MP Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Neeraj Mandloi said nothing will happen to the trees immediately.

“It was a concept floated by the Housing Board before the Urban Development Minister. As of now, there is no approval or final proposal before the government. The government is fully sensitive to the protection of trees. There is no proposal to cut the trees as of now,” he said.

Environmental activist Dr Subhash C Pandey, who is among those leading the campaign, said they will wait for the government’s reaction to their movement. “In the meantime, we are mulling to launch a massive protest akin to Chipko Andolan if the government does not act,” he said.

Launched in the 1970s in Uttarakhand (then a part of Uttar Pradesh), Chipko Andolan was a movement wherein people clasped to the trunk of trees to stop them from being felled by loggers.

“There are indications that over 27,000 trees, seventy per cent of them heritage ones, are going to be chopped for the (housing) project,” he said.

Pandey said their delegation met MP Housing Board Commissioner Chandramauli Shukla and Housing Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya over the issue, but was told that compensatory saplings would be planted if such a project comes up.

“Not a single sapling planted to compensate for the felling of trees for the metro train project, Smart City and a private concern’s huge complex in the past in Bhopal has survived,” he said.

Pandey said he would also move the National Green Tribunal to save the trees.

South-West Bhopal BJP MLA Bhagwan Das Sabnani, who worshipped trees in his constituency and publicly supported the campaign on Friday, did not respond to phone calls. A local Hindi daily quoted him as saying that development should not be at the cost of greenery.

A similar campaign had been launched when the same stretch of green tract was picked up for the Smart City Project but it was shifted to TT Nagar following public outburst.

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Published 15 June 2024, 11:28 IST

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