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Road expansion, termites weakening trees across Chandigarh, say experts

Chandigarh has more than 1.6 lakh trees, of which 1,029 were found dead in 2017. After the Punjab and Haryana high court took notice of the procedure involved in removing these dead trees, the system in place was changed.

punjab Updated: Jun 03, 2018 13:51 IST
Arshdeep Arshi
Arshdeep Arshi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Road expansion,termites weakening trees,Chandigarh
An old tree with exposed roots along the Sector 10/11 road in Chandigarh on Saturday. A tree on the same stretch got uprooted, killing a passerby, during the dust storm on Friday.

Every time there are heavy rains or storms, the tricity sees at least one case of tree being uprooted. On Friday too, a cyclist lost his life as a tree came crashing down on him during heavy storm. Why has it become a routine affair for the tricity? Experts say that road expansion activities and termite attacks have left trees weak and unable to sustain adverse weather conditions.

Freaky Friday: High-speed winds leave 1 dead, 1 hurt in Chandigarh tricity

Former executive engineer, Harjit Singh, says, “When the roots of the trees are cut, it creates a pressure on the canopy.” He adds, “When roads were being widened around 20 years ago, the roots of the trees were cut. I had then submitted reports on how trees were being affected, but tree expansion was the need of the hour in wake of the increasing traffic.”

Besides this, termites are another contributing factor to the weakening of the trees. Singh says there is no solution to this problem of termites. “The only way out is to hire a termite control company for its treatment,” he says. In 2017, former mayor Asha Jaswal had launched a campaign to curb termite by putting chlorpyrifos on trees.

Sunita Kapila, chairperson of the botany department of Panjab University, adds, “When trees are not pruned properly, there are chances of branches breaking or the entire tree being uprooted to the weight. A healthy tree has a proper trunk with a properly maintained canopy.”

Problem rampant

Chandigarh has more than 1.6 lakh trees, of which 1,029 were found dead in 2017. After the Punjab and Haryana high court took notice of the procedure involved in removing these dead trees, the system in place was changed. Earlier, the powers to give permission for removing dead trees was with the UT adviser, however, now it lies with UT chief engineer, MC commissioner and chief conservator of forests.

Executive engineer, horticulture department, Krishan Pal Singh said, “We have removed nearly all the dead trees. Most of these trees were planted in 1960s. Many of them have completed their life span while the others survived.”

First Published: Jun 03, 2018 13:51 IST