Nearly 10,000 fully grown up tree are to be felled for flyover and widening of Sohna Road, in Gurugram, Haryana.(Yogesh Kumar/HT File Photo)
Nearly 10,000 fully grown up tree are to be felled for flyover and widening of Sohna Road, in Gurugram, Haryana.(Yogesh Kumar/HT File Photo)

‘Ensuring a healthy environment is the duty of every individual’

Like Melbourne authorities, which started a unique campaign enabling people to express their love for trees, Gurugram, too, needs something on similar lines to protect the trees in the city.
By Prerna Singh Bindra
UPDATED ON AUG 28, 2018 03:45 PM IST

“Dear Algerian Oak,

Thank you for giving us oxygen. Thank you for being so pretty. I don’t know where I’d be without you to extract my carbon dioxide. I would probably be in heaven. You are the gift that keeps on giving. Stay strong, stand tall amongst the crowd.”

— Letter to an Oak Tree, one of the messages from the citizens of Melbourne, Australia, to the trees of their city.

In 2013, the city authorities of Melbourne assigned trees with numbers and email addresses to make it easier for people to report complaints they might have regarding trees with outreaching branches or those that might have tilted over a garage.

The response was a delightful surprise. Citizens reported their issues all right, but that was just part of the whole thing. What unfolded was a beautiful exchange between the people and trees. While most expressed gratitude like the one illustrated above, some displayed curiosity: “Do trees have genders?” Some others expressed existential dilemmas: “How do you deal with soul-crushing pain of disappointment that characterises our lives on the Earth? You must be very old. So I thought you might know.”

As words spread, mails poured in from across the world. Tina from Germany warned trees to “Keep away from fire!” Another hoped that the trees were “enjoying the Ashes series as much as they were in England.”

But the common thread — and the most heartening — was the outpouring of love for trees. Here is one of the finest expressions: “You deserve to be known by more than a number. I love you. Always and forever.”

I find this initiative beyond awesome: the relationship people build with trees, the perception of trees as not just disposable things or non-entities, but as living beings and friends, their fierce defence to protect them, and the solidarity of trees being fellow citizens.

I draw your attention to this as I watch with immense sorrow the silent slaughter of trees in Gurugram. Over the years, thousands of trees have been cut and entire forests have been cleared. More recently, there was news of 1,300 trees to be axed at Atul Kataria Chowk, and about 10,000 more to endure the same fate on Sohna Road. Thousands of trees and forests are being cleared in Delhi and Noida. Though, determined citizens have come together to speak up against this mindless massacre, the need of the hour is mass involvement.

Don’t all of us need unpolluted air, clean water and soil, all of which are crucial to our health? A healthy environment is everyone’s task, the impact of polluted air is democratic, affecting each one of us. Toxic air enfeebles our hearts and lungs, can lead to cancers, and cut short our life. The larger motive of the Melbourne authorities was to revitalise the greenery and increase canopy cover to cool rocketing summertime temperatures. Need one stress how desperately we need the shield and shelter of trees in the increasingly scorching, toxic environs of Delhi-ncr? Citizens need to appreciate the value of green cover, be informed about governance issues that affect everybody, speak up in defence of trees. The need of the hour is to make pollution, loss of trees, forests and lakes, and clean drinking water electoral issues to ensure that governments act. And yes…pen your love letter to the tree today, and keep your commitment.

(Prerna Singh Bindra is a former member of the National Board for Wildlife. She is the author of The Vanishing: India’s Wildlife Crisis.)

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MCG opens city’s first steel utensil bank to eliminate plastics

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 11:55 PM IST
To eliminate the need for single-use plastics, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) has opened the city’s first steel utensil bank in Sector 10, said officials on Monday
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Strong winds help to improve city’s air quality

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 11:55 PM IST
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Unsold EWS flats to be auctioned to general buyers

By Abhishek Behl, Gurugram
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 11:55 PM IST
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Women lead farm protests at Haryana-Rajasthan border

By Sadia Akhtar, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 11:55 PM IST
Women farmers protesting at Shahjahanpur-Jaisinghpur Khera on the Haryana-Rajasthan border led the protests on Monday, on the occasion of International Women’s Day
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Anganwadi worker felicitated by CM for her Covid relief work

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 11:55 PM IST
For the last 10 years, Poonam Ghatwal has been working as an anganwadi worker at Aklimpur village of the Badshahpur block in the city
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A Sultanate period tomb now serves as a village centre

By Sadia Akhtar, Gurugram
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 09:58 PM IST
Nestled in the midst of modern constructions and mustard fields in Gumat Bihari village is a historical tomb that dates back to the 14th or 15th century AD
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Vaccination centres open advance booking till March-end on Co-Win platform

By Archana Mishra, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:35 PM IST
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100 days of protest: Farmers observe ‘Black Day’

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:34 PM IST
Farmers protesting at Jaisinghpur Khera and Sunehra-Jurehra at the Haryana-Rajasthan border near Nuh on Saturday observed ‘Black Day’ in solidarity with fellow farmers who have been camping at Delhi borders for the past 100 days
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Heavily congested Krishna Chowk to get smart traffic signalling system

By Kartik Kumar, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:33 PM IST
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Engineering student killed as truck rams into scooter

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
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One held for operating fake call centre in Sector 50

By Leena Dhankhar, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:32 PM IST
The police on Friday night raided a fake call centre, which had been operating in Nirvana Courtyard in Sector 50 for the past few months
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Man flees with merchandise without paying; booked

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
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An unidentified man was booked for allegedly fleeing with apparel from a shop in DLF Phase-1 market on Friday evening
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12 booked for demanding protection money from a stone crushing company

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
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Farmhouse owners get notices for illegal construction on Aravalli land

By HT Correspondent, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 11:30 PM IST
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Two held for selling counterfeit versions of branded clothes online

By Leena Dhankhar, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 11:29 PM IST
The police arrested a man and a woman in Gurugram Sector 12 on Friday for allegedly selling fake versions of branded clothes online, after attaching tags of various popular brands
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