Staff Reporter :
Complete land on east side of road opposite the lake is experimental farm and it is not forest: Maha Metro
Issue of green cover cannot be negated by showing satellite images of summer or dry season: Anasuya Kale-Chhabrani
The tussle between Maha Metro and green activists over the issue of felling of trees near Futala Lake took a new turn on Wednesday when Maha Metro claimed that some activists were tarnishing their image with ‘false claims’. According to Maha Metro, “A campaign has been launched by some activists to tarnish the image of Maha Metro by claiming that it has chopped down 500 trees on land belonging to Dr Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV) near Futala Lake for construction of multi-level parking plaza.” Countering the allegations of activists, Maha Metro said, “Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) has issued to Maha Metro a letter dated September 21, 2001 giving permission to fell 16 teak trees. A separate permission was earlier issued to fell 12 roadside trees also.” It has been alleged that Maha Metro has illegally chopped down 500 full grown trees on PDKV land. In reply, Maha Metro said that there were only 16 young teak trees on the land. Satellite image of May 2019 shows that there was no forest on the land as claimed by the activists.
This image is deliberately being not circulated by the activists.” According to Maha Metro, “The activists are not sure about the number of trees felled. In the letter to Prime Minister they said 100 trees had been felled. Now they are saying 500 trees have been illegally felled. How can their estimates vary within a space of two days?” Maha Metro reiterates that it has felled only 16 trees. But if the claim of the activists is taken to be true for the sake of argument then what were they doing when 500 trees were being felled? questioned Maha Metro. It is common sense that nobody can fell so many trees within a space of few hours.
The reason is that only 16 young trees were felled and 500 by any stretch of imagination, it stated. Maha Metro claimed, “The activists did not contact the Associate Dean, College of Agriculture, PDKV, to find out whether fully grown trees existed on the spot where felling was done. According to PDKV, complete land on east side of road opposite to tank is agriculture field for experimental plantation of fruit bearing species and it is not forest. After 2013 it has not ploughed the land and no plantation due to grazing menace by the locals which can also be verified through Google Earth site.” “We had sought permission to fell 16 trees on January 30, 2021. NMC issued a public notice in local newspapers on February 18, 2021. At that time nobody raised any objection in this regard,” it claimed. At the end, Maha Metro said, “The activists are also mentioning the fact that Maha Metro has reduced the length of retaining wall and changed the methodology of piling as a precautionary measure to save several trees.
Maha Metro has also planted 580 trees in lieu of felling 28 trees (16 for parking plaza and 12 roadside trees)”. Countering the Maha Metro’s allegations, Anasuya Kale Chhabrani, green activist and president of Swacch Nagpur said, “For Maha Metro’s claim of public notice, NMC should come out with a proper explanation that when and where did they issue the notice.” Kale-Chhabrani said, “The issue of green cover cannot be negated by showing satellite images of summer or dry season as most of our trees are dry deciduous in nature, that means they shed leaves in summer hence the ground looks parched and dry.” She further said, “In case there is any doubt a neutral body like RRSC of ISRO should be approached by NMC to give the exact number of trees that existed before they were cut.”