Plunder of green cover

Kashmir Times. Dated: 10/7/2019 3:13:34 PM

The NDA-government has been trying to justify plunder of forest areas in cities on the pretext of development

The NDA-government does not appear to be serious in respecting the sentiments of the citizens with regard to their opposition to felling of forest trees for carving out space for transport sheds in one metropolitan city or the other. The recent case of Aarey Colony forest area in Mumbai is a case in point for the reason that despite opposition and a High Court order, the BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra has gone ahead with felling of close to 3000 trees for creating a parking space for Mumbair Matro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) coaches. The night operation began in the evening and already the MMRCL workers had felled half the number of grown up trees by the next morning while the High Court had vacated the stay the previous day. While doing so and going ahead with the planned felling of trees, the activists and environmentalists were detained in the nearby police stations for preventing them from disrupting the clearance of the forest area. It is unfortunate that the High Court had refused to declare the green cover as forest area, which is hosting almost close to half a million trees. If such a large number of trees do not constitute a forest area, then only those ruling the roost in the corridors of power have every right to classify a forest area of not. If the government cannot respect the sentiments of its citizens, who are also their voters, then no power on earth can stop any person in power to do whatever comes their way in the name of developmental activities. It is sad state of affairs that the right wing groups, who are in power in different states of the country, are the worst enemies of the ecology and natural forest cover in the country while maintaining their touted nationalism. The Aarey Colony forest enclosure is perhaps one of the few green covers in Mumbai described as the green lungs of the metropolis and needs to be preserved for the health of the human population not only in this colony but also rest of the residents.
The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is no different where the voices of dissent were silenced by the concerned authorities in the beginning itself. The Jammu-Akhnoor Road and Circular Road, also known as alternate link road of the National Highway passing through Jammu city, widening projects uprooted thousands of trees along the century-old Ranbir Canal. The green trees on the embankments took decades together to grown and provide green cover to the people living in the catchment areas and have now been felled in one go with no plans to relocate any of them or plant new trees in the catchment areas or the barren lands between the two towns. As such, there are no assessments about the number of trees being felled for this purpose being described as development project which can bring in new opportunities for the local people besides providing much needed connectivity with the National Highway. The connectivity was there even in previous years but the new road is being carved out by taking over the irrigated land and agriculture fields for which both the farmers and citizens voiced dissent in the beginning of the project. The courts also stayed aloof from these developments when the viability of the project was challenged by the farming community in both cities of Jammu and Srinagar. This was mainly for the reason that the farmers were not willing to give away their agriculture fields as they were their only source of livelihood. But things took a different turn and they relented when the compensation amount was revised four times the market rate with no allotment of alternate land for agriculture purposes. But the question is whether the forest cover in these areas can be regenerated in the next one or two decades or not. It may decades together to re-grow the mature and grown up trees of the present time while the plunder continues.



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