Gurugram civic body gets go-ahead to chop 28 trees to build new auditorium | gurgaon | Hindustan Times
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Gurugram civic body gets go-ahead to chop 28 trees to build new auditorium

The permission has not gone well with environmental activists, who said that given the city’s pollution level, all options for saving trees should be explored.

gurgaon Updated: Jul 03, 2018 14:03 IST
Rashpal Singh
Rashpal Singh
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
MCG,Municipal Corporation of Gurugram,Gurugram Bal Bhawan
The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram got the nod to chop 28 trees at Bal Bhawan in Sector 4 on the condition that the agency will plant two times the number of trees that it will fell at its own expense, on its own land and ensure their survival. (Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) is set to fell 28 fully grown trees to construct an auditorium at Bal Bhawan in Sector 4 for holding culture events. The forest department, on Tuesday, granted permission to fell the trees, 13 of which are sheesham, and transplant 78 smaller trees. All the trees are green and standing.

The civic body had sought permission for felling and transplantation of 106 trees on June 23.

The nod comes on the heels of a row which has erupted over a housing project in south Delhi that requires cutting of about 17,000 trees to may way for homes for government employees besides a commercial complex.

The permission has been granted on the condition that the agency will plant two times the number of trees that it will fell at its own expense, on its own land and ensure their survival. The civic body is supposed to submit the plantation programme to the forest department.

Environmental experts have said that in case of compensatory plantation many of the saplings do not survive to grow into adult trees.

THE ENVIRONMENTAL COST
  • A total of 106 trees will be removed from the Bal Bhawan premises
  • 28 trees will be axed. Of these, 13 are sheesham trees and 15 others are of various other varieties. 78 trees will be transplanted
  • The new auditorium is being built as the old one is in a dilapidated state and can only seat 200 people
  • The new auditorium will be air-conditioned and have a seating capacity of 700 people
  • The project is estimated to cost ₹12.89 crore, and is expected to get completed by mid-2019.

MCG commissioner Yashpal Yadav said efforts have been made to save as much number of trees as possible. “Sometimes it is necessary. Most of the plants in such lands remain standing till the land is put to actual use. Transplantation is the best solution,” he said.

The permission letter from the forest department also mentions that the volume (area covered) of the 78 trees to be transplanted is lower than that of the trees to be felled. The volume of the 78 trees to be transplanted is 18.12 cubic meters (m3), while volume of 28 trees to be felled is 27.66 (m3), states the letter. This means that the MCG’s action will cost the city more tree cover than it will save through transplantation.

The permission has not gone well with environmental activists, who said that given the city’s pollution level, all options for saving trees should be explored.

“Compensatory afforestation does not serve the purpose as the new trees cannot compensate for the adverse effect of felling fully grown trees. While development has to take place, some measures have to be taken so that less number of trees are felled. There has to be a discussion,” said Deepak Gaur, popularly known as the Tree Man. The 37-year-old from the city has been planting saplings in the national capital region (NCR) since 2010 and aims to plant a billion trees by 2020.

In June during its House meeting, the MCG passed a resolution to build a new auditorium as the building of the old auditorium is in a dilapidated state and its seating capacity was insufficient. The old auditorium could only accommodate 200 people, while the new air-conditioned structure is planned to have a seating capacity of over 700 people at a projected cost of ₹12.89 crore.

Gurugram has lost a large chunk of its tree cover in last two years due to construction of underpasses, flyovers and elevated roads at four junctions of Iffco Chowk, Signature Tower, Rajiv Chowk, and Hero Honda Chowk. The total number of trees lost is 14,500.

Figures from the forest department show that against 2,276 trees that were cut in Gurugram in 2015-16, the next year saw the city lose 7,221 trees. This number further increased to 7,551 in 2017-18.

As per a Forest Survey of India report in 2017, there was a growth of 0.02% in forest cover in Haryana between 2014 and 2015, and the total forest cover of Gurugram was just 9.30% of its geographical area.

Box: Cost of entertainment

MCG plans to axe trees to build a new cultural centre in the city. Here’s the environmental cost of comfortable entertainment:

28 trees to be felled (13 sheesham and 15 others)

78 trees to be transplanted

700 seating capacity of new auditorium, against present seating capacity of 200

Project estimated cost ₹12.89 crore

Completion expected by mid-2019

First Published: Jul 03, 2018 14:03 IST