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Gone in four days

CFGD members wage a four day desperate battle to save a tree

Dr Nitin Pandey

21-April-2010

With black bands on their arms members of Citizens For Green Doon met on April 17, D Santhil Pandiyan, the District Magistrate of Dehradun and asked him “How?”. An earlier assurance by the DM himself to the members of the group, cost a beautiful 30yr old Tun tree its life, something the group had been fighting to save, for the last 4 days. How could a petty Government contractor defy DM’s orders, they wanted to know?

Tree felled at Vikas Chowk Dehradun
The Unfortunate Tun Tree

“It all started on last Saturday morning” recounts Laksha Mehta, a CFGD member. “A group of laborers descended on Vikas Chowk and started cutting a majestic, shady Tun tree standing by the side of the road. Local shopkeepers were aghast and chased off the laborers” she says. That was just the beginning of the whole story. Incensed by the opposition, the contractor with a number of his “friends” descended at the site, on Monday and shooed off protesting shopkeepers. A passerby called up CFGD’s Tree Helpline and within minutes dozens of members reached the site and surrounded the contractor. A tense stand off continued for 4 hrs after which the contractor withdrew his men.

“We were basically protesting against the need to cut down a healthy tree” explained Hema Phulera, a CFGD member. “Agreed, the contractor had the requisite permissions, but we strongly object to anyone giving permission for felling a green tree. If a tree is obstructing planned development, why not transplant it?” she asked. It turned out that the PWD had auctioned the tree a few days ago to the highest bidder for merely Rs 10,000/-, an amount a fraction of the market value, say market experts.

Volunteers of CFGD & the local shopkeepers kept a vigil at the site till dusk, to prevent the contractor from coming back. “By evening we were able to contact the DM on phone and we asked to meet him to explain our point of view” recalled Venu Dhingra. “He assured me that he had passed orders that the tree should not be cut until we all meet to discuss the issue”. With this the mood among the protesters turned jovial and they dispersed. “Firstly, widening this part of Vikas Chowk has no relevance, because the traffic on Old Survey Road is headed for Survey Chowk, where the traffic congestion is. Secondly, why did the PWD auction the tree when they could have transplanted it? And thirdly, why give it to private contractors, when the Uttarakhand Forest Development Corporation is there for the same purpose” she added.

Surprisingly, in spite of DM’s orders, the contractor returned the very next day to claim his “timber”. At 8.00am in the morning, CFGD’s Tree Helpline again rang with information about the laborers returning to the site. Himanshu Arora, a CFGD member, was the first to reach the site within minutes “That day Contractor had returned with a huge number of ‘friends’ and a large labor force. Within 10 mins he had managed to chop the three main branches of the tree.” Another tense standoff ensued with only a few CFGD volunteers being greatly outnumbered by the contractor’s men. Tempers flayed and violence seemed imminent. Fortunately, the DM could be contacted on mobile & he was taken aback by the impertinence of the contractor. A call a few minutes later on the Contractor’s mobile resulted in all his men withdrawing in a hurry. “The DM once again assured me that the tree will not be cut till a meeting was held.” said Dr Nitin Pandey. Unfortunately, because of the ongoing Kumbh, the meeting was scheduled for 2 days later. “We all left feeling reassured after the DM’s personal assurance” remembers Nitin. “We were sure we would be able to transplant it soon” he added.

But fate had some other plans in store for them. Next day morning, at 7 am the tree was felled!



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Date30-Dec-15
From: Hi!I'm Janine and I'm a member of EVOKE, an oninle game that allows us to find ideas on how to make this world a better place. This week's task was to find a social innovation role model and I chose you, Nitin Das!Thank you for making a difference!
Hi!I'm Janine and I'm a member of EVOKE, an oninle game that allows us to find ideas on how to make this world a better place. This week's task was to find a social innovation role model and I chose you, Nitin Das!Thank you for making a difference!




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