Where there is will, bulldozers don’t help. The Sharmas of Saraswati Vihar proved just that when they successfully resisted attempts to uproot trees in the locality by a contractor for constructing a road.
The family, taking inspiration from the ‘Chipko’ movement, hugged the trees — some as old as 15 years — when the bulldozer reached their house on May 2.
Stiff resistance from residents notwithstanding, almost two dozens trees had already been felled in the locality, situated just off MG Road, when the Sharmas became one of the few families to stop the bulldozers from running riot.
Forest department officials who reached the spot on Sunday confirmed the felling of trees. However, they said neither the contractor nor the Haryana Housing Board, that awarded the road construction contract, had received the necessary permission for feeling trees to construct lanes in Saraswati Vihar.
For the Sharmas the war is far from over. The contractor has threatened to get rid of the trees at a later stage. “The bulldozer still haunts us. We wake up from our sleep fearing the bulldozer has uprooted the Ashoka trees planted by our parents 15 years ago around the boundary wall. On May 2, we risked our lives. My husband, brother, father-in-law and mother-in-law stood between the trees and the raging bulldozer,” said Anjana Sharma, a CRM manager with a private company.
Anjana’s husband Neeraj Sharma — a software engineer with a multinational company — said the police were no help. They refused to intervene when the contractor insisted on getting the trees uprooted. If it were not for the family’s efforts, the bulldozer’s driver would not have given up.
S.P. Rawat was not as fortunate. Four up Ashoka trees outside the boundary wall of his house were uprooted. “My wife and I requested the contractor not to cut our trees. But he did not listen,” he said.
Forest Range officer Devender Rao said his department would issue notices to the contractor for uprooting trees without the valid permission. The Haryana Housing Board officials, however, blatantly refused of knowing what was going on at Saraswati
“No tree has been cut in the locality by the contractor. It is only a handful of residents with vested interests who are raising a hue and cry out of RWA politics,” he claimed. The contractor Rajbir Singh was not available for comments.