The Madras High Court has sought the government to find out whether there are alternative places at the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology and Government Ophthalmic Hospital at Egmore wherein the proposed additional buildings can come up without the said 75 trees being cut.
However, this was countered by the petitioner’s counsel that the survival rate of such replanted trees is very less and the government cannot afford to lose such age-old trees. The petitioner Capt PB Narayanan, an ex-serviceman, had submitted that the 75 full grown trees with wide canopy serves as a habitat for birds, including black kites, parakeets, mongoose and other animals. But, unmindful of that the authorities have embarked on removing the trees in a patch of four acres, which supports biodiversity.
Also, on noting that the Ophthalmic Hospital, said to be the second oldest hospital of its kind in the world cannot embark upon such ecologically destructive and environmentally deleterious activity, the petitioner said. “While the hospital needs additional buildings for its functioning, the same can be constructed in the space available on the same campus which is adjacent to nursing quarters where such old trees are not found,” he added. Further, citing that Chennai lost substantial number of trees during Cyclone Vardah and whatever left today must be protected, he said the claims of relocating the trees within the campus is not a viable option as most of such fully-grown trees would not survive such relocation.