Mumbai: Three days after residents in Greater Noida staged protests against felling of 3,000 eucalyptus trees in sector 91 by literally tying rakhis on trees, the Noida Authority planted 600 trees in the upcoming 75-acre biodiversity park. The plantation drive was conducted as a part of the Rs 50 crore project to develop a biodiversity park which will include facilities like soft jogging park and a motorable pathway. As per the plan, the authorities aim to plant around 5,000 varieties of native trees and 1,00,000 species of miniature plants in the park which is scheduled to be completed in next six months.
Varieties such as neem, jamun, imli, pilkhan, kachnaar, ashok, gulmohar, amla, harad, baheda, banyan and guava were planted in the park. Around 600 such plantations were done with many trees measuring a height of 10 to 15 feet, Noida Authority officials told PTI.
The officials of the horticulture department, local citizens and representatives from various Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) participated in the plantation drive.
On one hand where a few residents are helping the Noida Authority to plant trees, a few residents have been protesting against the authorities over violation of environment laws that is causing a loss of habitat of several animal and bird species like the nilgai (blue bull).
In the name of developing a biodiversity park, the Noida Authority have been cutting trees in the Gautam Buddh Nagar forest in sector 91. At least 60-70% of the land here has already been cleared you could see so many stumps I am more concerned about the wildlife that is dependent on these trees. There is nilgai, peacock and even deer, said Chaavi Methi, a volunteer at the Chipko movement of Delhi expressing concern for the disintegrating forest ecosystem.
Vikrant Tongand, member of Greater Noida based NGO Social Action for Forests and Environment has filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) stating that the authorities have not been successful in preserving the environment and ecology as defined in the Uttar Pradesh Tree Protection Act, 1976, by allowing such illegal activity. The petition mentions five other such violations of various environment laws. These include commencement of construction activities without permission, illegal extraction of groundwater, unscientific storage of construction material in the open and large-scale concreting of an open area.
Ashish Sachdeva, 29, an environmentalist and social entrepreneur, who resides close to this forest area, said he had moved from Delhi to Noida primarily for the greenery and fresh air in this area.
Government bodies are not taking climate change seriously and cutting fully grown trees in the name of development. Hence, citizens need to stand together, he said.
Meanwhile the officials from Noida Authority and Gautam Buddh Nagar Forest Department have said the trees were cut with permission. The permission grants cutting of 4,000 trees in the forest.
Outlining the need to cut the eucalyptus trees that were planted in 1986-87, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Pramod Kumar Srivastava said that since the trees over 30-years-old they no more have any environmental or timber value. However the official, in his statement, also mentioned that a case been registered against the contractor for cutting one neem tree and five babool trees as they were not included in the permit.
The official also cleared the air about making the biodiversity park concrete and said that no amphitheatre or food courts will be constructed inside the park. In fact only five to six per centre of concrete will be used in the entire 75 acre area.
With Inputs from PTI
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