Protestors at the cut tree in President's Body Guard
Sunday was a day of shock for people of Dehradun. News of widespread tree felling at the President’s Body Guard’s compound called “Ashiana” spread fast and wide and a number of people and volunteers of Citizens For Green Doon rushed to the spot to verify it. President’s Body Guard’s Ashiana is a rest house owned by the PBG, on Rajpur Road in Jakhan, next to NIVH. It is one of the few green patches remaining in Dehradun and dates back to the early British Era. Therefore news of widespread tree felling seemed unbelievable to many.
Shock was in store for those who reached the site. A majestic 40yr old “Tun” tree had been mercilessly cut and was in the process of being dismembered. It turned out that a contractor named Wajid Ali had been given the contract of felling 384 trees by the PBG for a sum of Rs Eleven lacs. The contract had been based on permission received from the DFO Dehradun for the same in July 2009. Out of these, 84 were lush green native trees including Tun & Silver Oak in the main PBG compound while the rest were Eucalyptus growing in another plot of land half a kilometre away.
The reason for cutting these rare and beautiful trees was truly unbelievable. The JCO in charge of the compound, explained that they were cutting these trees so that they could grown more mango trees! People literally howled when they heard that such majestic native trees were to be cut so that mango trees could be planted! “Truly, appalling” said Pinki Pal, one of the first to reach the site “I am willing to give them one basket of mangoes every month if they spare these trees” she added. Others like Shubendra Singh, a college student who travelled on his scooter 20kms from Panditwari on hearing the news, said “When we want to cut one tree, the Forest Department refuses on some ground or the other. How is it that it has now given permission for 384 trees to grow mangoes?”
Among the eminent citizens to reach the site was Mr. Bunty Chopra, a retired professional, who has filed a PIL in Uttarakhand High Court, against tree felling in Dehradun. “The DM of Dehradun had given a sworn affidavit a few days ago in the High Court that no more trees would be cut in the valley till the PIL is disposed off by the hon’ble court. The DFO of Dehradun was duty bound to rescind all the permissions he may have given in the past, which he, obviously, has not done. Both of them are now guilty of contempt of court”. He informed that he would be taking up the matter in the High Court the next day.
Almost in tears, Mrs Laksha Mehta, a well known environmental activist of Dehradun, said that Tun trees were so difficult to grow and this particular tree which had been cut was healthy and thriving. “I’m sure that if the President knew about this she would have been aghast!” Someone in the crowd suggested marching to the Governor’s Residence, who is the President’s representative in Dehradun, but the idea was subsequently dropped.
Police reached the spot and assured everyone that no more trees would be cut until the matter was clarified with the higher authorities. They also assured everyone that the discrepancies in the permission would be looked into specifically the one which mentions that permission was specifically for trees on the boundary of Ashiana, while the trees which were being cut were all over the compound.
People then gathered at the gate of the PBG and raised slogans against the forest department for failing to do its duty of protecting trees and it’s inept approach in the matter. “We hope that some responsible person now wakes up and stops this madness” said Veeru Gairola, a Citizens For Green Doon activist “otherwise, we will be forced to protest again at the gates of Rashrapati Ashiana, which is not a very pleasant thing to do, but our Valley comes first!”
||Get Updates||Get SMS Updates|