President APJ Abdul Kalam can be all charm, but mess around with his ideals and he can be as tough as a headmaster. The Ernakulam district administration learnt this the tough way.
When he got to know that the Kochi administration had uprooted three trees and chopped off branches of another five to build a helipad for his visit, Kalam said the official responsible should plant at least 10 times the number of trees he had cut. Kalam also set a deadline: before he visits Kochi on December 19.
“I have given instructions to the PWD engineer to plant 30 saplings on Marine Drive in a couple of days,” district collector APM. Muhammed Hanish said. Kalam’s office has asked the collector to ensure that his directive is implemented.
Environmentalists had protested the cutting of the trees on Wednesday. Enraged, they had rushed mails to the President. And then, the blame game began. While the PWD claimed it cut the trees after the collector told them to, the collector claimed he had only given permission to trim the trees. The government has sought a report from the collector and asked the forest conservator to probe the felling. “It is a big lapse. I have sought a probe,” said Forest Minister Binoy Viswam.
A similar incident took place when the President visited Kozhikode in 2003. His office had then asked the collector to plant saplings. But those saplings lasted only a couple of days.
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