Anand, an entrepreneur living in Anna Nagar, was aghast to see the decades-old neem tree outside his apartment being chopped down on Saturday. “This tree has been there for a very long time, and housed many insects and birds. And it was the primary source of shade. They cut the branches initially but later, the entire tree had been felled.
When we asked the workers, they said that the Government Peripheral Hospital had instructed them to cut it because they could not dry their clothes due to the tree’s shade. I was shocked because people still don’t understand the importance of trees and sadly, not many people are concerned either,” he said. Efforts to reach out to the hospital went unanswered.
Arun Krishnamurthy, Founder of Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), said they get many calls from concerned citizens over felling of trees. “We get almost 18-20 calls every week but if the tree is in a private property, we can’t do anything about it. Around 65 per cent of the calls we get pertain to tree felling in private properties. There are strict rules governing felling of trees in public spaces and we were able to stop quite a few as well.
The mindless chopping is sure to have serious repercussions,” he said. Protecting our trees is a life-long commitment and not many people are dedicated to doing it, said Nambi Rajan, an IT employee who also conducts saplings planting and maintenance drives as a part of the Chennai Trekking Club (CTC).
“Initially, there were very few people interesting in participating in sapling plantation drives. And we realised that saplings require constant care, otherwise they don’t survive and the whole exercise is futile. So we regularly maintain the saplings by adding manure and now, they are flourishing.
Though more people have signed up for planting saplings, they only participate if there is another fun activity attached to it. We are also trying to create awareness among children in a bid to protect our trees,” he said. Srikanth K, weather blogger at Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikkaalam (COMK) pointed out that if we don’t protect our trees, it would seriously affect the weather. “The lack of trees will definitely lead to an increase in temperature.
Look at Bengaluru – the temperatures have gone up by 2-3 degrees over the years. The urbanisation, lack of trees and of course, vehicular pollution can affect the temperatures,” he warned.