Spare those trees

Delhi has become one of the most polluted cities of the world. There is a heavy pall of dust and toxic smoke covering its sky. What is needed desperately is to have more trees, more greenery, a lush cover of green. Even a school student knows that trees clean the air; they absorb pollutant gases like nitrogen oxide, ammonia, sulphur dioxide and ozone. They filter suspended particulate matters out of the air by trapping these on their leaves. Right at this moment somebody has come up with the insane idea that 16,500 trees in the capital city must be felled to clear the ground for building apartment houses ro provide cozy flats for the sarkari Babus.  And this project has been pretentiously called a ‘Redevelopment Project.’
From whose fertile brain such an idea of ‘development’ has come nobody knows. But the news of the proposed plan for denuding a large part of the meager green cover the nation’s capital city has, has caused widespread consternation among the Delhi-ites. Residents of different localities have come out in strong opposition. Young children have been found embracing trees as a gesture of protest against their felling. The matter has reached the Delhi High Court which has ordered the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) not to cut any tree till July 4. But the Government must tell the people how such a monstrous project got the clearance of the Environment Ministry.
The word ’development’ means different things to different people. When adivasis are evicted en masse from the land that has sustained them for generations so that the minerals lying buried under their land can be exploited by desi and foreign investors, that is also called development. When fertile multi-crop agricultural land is sought to be forcibly acquired and handed over to industrialists for a song, that is also claimed to be done for development. In West Bengal, such a perverted conception of development had grave consequences, culminating in the fall of the Left Front Government.
Many would recall the poem by George Pope Morris that they had read in their boyhood days: “Woodman, spare that tree/Touch not a single bough/In youth it sheltered me/And I’ll protect it now/ There, woodman, let it stand/Thy axe shall harm it not.” It is heartening to see that the citizens of Delhi have issued that stern warning to the would-be woodman not to touch a single tree.

Tuesday, 26 June, 2018