Hyderabad: Forest officials in Medak have issued a notice to the contractor of the Sangareddy-Nanded highway for chopping down trees in their jurisdiction without following due procedure.
According to sources in Vata Foundation, which helps in rescuing trees, hundreds of trees have been chopped to construct the highway. About 390 fully grown banyan trees may live if they are translocated.
Medak forest officials told this newspaper that the trees have been chopped along the Sangareddy-Nanded highway without following due procedure and a notice has been sent to the contractor. “We have also instructed them to protect and preserve the remaining trees at least,” the source said.
Though the survival rate for trees is low once they are uprooted, trees of the ficus species fall under the low risk category, and have a high probability of surviving when they are re-planted elsewhere.
The translocation must be done in a careful and scientific manner in order to succeed.
Experts say the rate of survival decreases if the distance to the translocation point increases. So, its better the trees are transplanted in the nearest location possible.
“It needs to be done with immense care by using a lot of water. And the cost can be around Rs 15,000 per tree,” said a wildlife expert.
Under the Water, Land and Trees Act (WALTA), a tree can be cut only when it is dead or too old to survive, or if the tree is posing any threat to humans or property, or for a public purpose.
Certain procedures must be followed before a tree can be cut. Prior felling permission from the Divisional Forest Officer is essential. If trees are felled without permission, it’s an offence under WALTA and the offender is liable for punishment under the provision of the WALT Act and Transit Rules 1970.
WALTA rules require the applicant to plant double the number of trees felled, of the same species or suitable species, within one year from the date of felling. The trees may be planted in the same site or any other suitable place close by.
The Act says, “in case he fails to plant and raise the required number of plants, the Divisional Forest Officer will arrange for raising the required number of plants and the cost of which shall be borne by the applicant”.
While the directions are clear, the implementation is, as always, poor. There is no checking to see how many trees are cut and whether double that number have been planted and nurtured, encouraging contractors and builders to cut trees at random.
Activists have suggested the option of using the trees as a median and constructing the road on the other side by acquiring the required land, but land acquisition has its own problems....