Some of the trees that got
uprooted due to heavy winds
in Anna Nagar on Friday night
Some of the trees that got uprooted due to heavy winds in Anna Nagar on Friday nightHemanathan M

Gone with wind: 365 trees bear Mandous brunt in Chennai

The corporation helpline 1913 received 365 complaints about trees uprooted and fallen on the roads and streets of the city.

CHENNAI: Cyclone Mandous may not have claimed lives other than for a few electrocutions. But the cyclonic winds of 65 to 75 kmph speed left an impact on the city’s avenue trees.

The city, even otherwise, has less than 12 per cent greenery, thanks to natural disasters, development projects including stormwater drain (SWD) works and metro rail projects.

Tree growth and survival are affected due to various reasons in the city. Though saplings are planted, they don’t have a healthy management plan. And the civic body authorities’ failure to prune trees in a time-bound manner is another reason that trees don’t sustain, say concerned environmentalists reacting to the large number of trees getting uprooted as Mandous made a landfall.

According to the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) sources, trees had fallen or uprooted at least in 365 places in the city owing to strong wind. GCC workers are clearing them since Friday night. The corporation helpline 1913 received 365 complaints about trees uprooted and fallen on the roads and streets of the city.

“Fortunately, the number of trees uprooted and fallen in the city is less for this cyclone. The trees should be slowly replaced with native trees as has been suggested to the GCC recently. Tree planting has not become a regulated activity. Anybody interested can plant. People do not understand what plants are suitable for the soil here,” said a renowned professor in botany, D Narasimhan.

“Trees such as rain trees and copper pod trees are prone to cyclones and other natural calamities as they easily fall. The government should focus on urban forest trees,” he said.

According to ecologists, the development projects including SWD and Metro rail projects are another reason for the vulnerability of trees, especially avenue trees. “The civic authorities have cut the roots and laid the drains. Though they have retained the trees, they have become weak. Many trees are medium-sized, planted recently and have not been protected properly,” they opined.

“The government claims Chennai has 15 per cent green cover, but it is less than optimal,” they added.

Boats damaged at
Kasimedu harbour
Boats damaged at Kasimedu harbour

“During Cyclone Vardhah, the government stated that less than a few hundred trees were uprooted. As per reports, over one lakh trees were lost in the city. There is no record of avenue trees that were damaged during the cyclone. Unless the trees are tagged we will not know the exact number of trees,” said Senthur Paari, president of Exnora Internationals.

“People plant trees adjacent to compound walls with no space for roots to deepen,” said Dr TD Babu, Trustee of Nizhal, a city-based NGO. Infections are spotted in trunk and branches split open with black spots. These are the basic things pointed out but not addressed. Tree plantation drive under the Pasumai project increased the green cover, but authorities’ failure to maintain trees are leading to their mass mortality during storms and cyclones, he said.

Some of the trees that got
uprooted due to heavy winds
in Anna Nagar on Friday night
Min Nasar inspects Ambattur Aavin plant for uninterrupted supply

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