Environment activists cry foul, Pradhan defends decision

Felling of trees at Humfreygunj evokes mixed reactions
Report by: 
ROOPA LALL
Port Blair
26 Jun 2018

Felling of decades old trees along the main road near Humfreygunj Junction in South Andaman has evoked mixed reactions from the people of these islands. While tree-lovers and environment activists are up in arms after more than a dozen trees were chopped down in the past few days, the Panchayat authorities claim that the exercise was imperative to save previous human lives in the region. As per reports, the Andaman Public Works Department chopped down several trees along the main road from Humfreygunj Junction leading to Dhanikhari and other hamlets in the past couple of months. Some more reportedly standing dangerously are likely to be felled down in the next few days. However, massive trunks of the felled trees have not yet been cleared from the region.
“I was left shocked after noticing so many trees hacked along the main road at Humfreygunj recently. It's extremely distressing that such mindless cutting of trees is continuing in South Andaman and the government agencies are involved in it. All efforts to protect trees should be made in these islands, which are known for its green cover. Environment activists always work on ideas and solutions in order to save trees, but this massive scale of tree felling at Humfreygunj has left us extremely depressed,” said an environment activist.
The Pradhan of Humfreygunj, Saw Mary, however, defended the decision to cut down the trees standing dangerously along the roadsides. “Last year, three accidents occurred in this area due to uprooting of trees. Trunks of huge trees crashed over passing vehicles claiming many lives in the past few years. The Panchayat submitted a proposal to the administration last year to recommending to chop down dangerous trees along the road here, which was approved by the concerned authority. The APWD and Forest Department conducted a joint survey after which APWD floated tenders for the purpose following which APWD began the exercise before the onset of monsoon season this year. Some more tree standing dangerously near the Rubber Plantation here also needs to be brought down soon as they could cause fatal accidents during stormy weather,” the Pradhan stated.