No breathing space for trees: NGO takes fight to green court

  • Snehil Sinha, Hindustan Times, Gurgaon
  • Updated: Feb 07, 2015 12:00 IST

After months of trying to persuade authorities to clear concrete around trees, a citybased NGO has filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against concrete sidewalks that cover base of trees.

Trees that dot the streets of Gurgaon are few and far between, but even those few are quickly drying up. According to environmentalists, some space should be left around trees to allow air and water into the roots. However, the newly constructed footpaths in several parts of the city are not following this practice.

“By doing so they are killing the roots and the tree itself. Gardeners call this area the protected root zone and its health is critical. When concrete is placed over the roots, the digging required to create the patio or concrete space damages critical root structures,” said Vivek Kamboj, founder of NGO Haryali that has filed the petition.

Interestingly, concrete-covered trees are seen close to several government offices, including the forest department’s office. Other locations include roads near sector 31, 46 and 40, Udyog Vihar, Civil Lines and near Rajiv Chowk.

“It is ironical that the area is a protected forest and trees have been cemented without anybody noticing it. We can understand that other departments might not be aware of the ill effects of cementing the trees but being a custodian of forest and our environment, we fail to understand the negligence of forest department,” said Kamboj.

He has also written letters to the department and to the office of conservator of forest for removing concrete around trees in and around government offices and issue notices to government agencies, private builders and other people who are putting concrete around the trees thus limiting the scope of their survival.

Gurgaon has a tree cover of 8% of its total area, much less than the expected national average of 33%. In the absence of large green spaces within the city, the trees along roads and highways form a majority of the protected forest that comes under the forest department.

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