Mumbai’s little green cover is routinely encroached upon and is virtually extinct, thanks to development, residential building projects, uncaring politicians and a citizenry that is too caught up with their every day problems to monitor every green patch, clump of trees or parks that give some respite from the concrete jungle that is the city. We also have numerous examples of the death of mangrove belts in the city. Environmentalists talk about the time-consuming battles that they wage, trying to stop steady erosion of green cover in the city.
Perhaps, the hardest to stop is the hacking and chopping of trees in the city. Yesterday, this paper carried a front page report about a Bandra resident being beaten up by goons, after he tried to stop them from uprooting a mango tree in the vicinity where he lived. It is very difficult for ordinary citizens to protect trees from getting chopped. Most people are unaware about how, even with the best intentions, one can stop illegal felling of trees. Organisations that protect trees need to publicise ‘how’ people could access them. Most people do not even know that they have an avenue to turn to, in order to stop illegal tree felling.
We have seen trees routinely felled because of a development project or because they are obstructing the view of a commercial establishment. Sometimes, this illegal chopping is done at night, under the cover of darkness. It is also much quicker to chop off trees than take over a patch of green.
Then, often trees are chopped with the explanation that they are going to be ‘re-planted’ somewhere. How and when this replanting is done, nobody knows.
There has to be greater awareness of the benefits that trees give us, and most importantly, more powers and knowledge provided to citizens so that they can help in stopping the felling of trees. Putting up ‘save trees’ stickers, at best, is a feel good measure. People must know what action they need to take, what recourse they have, to save that tree from being axed.