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Axe tracks & other PET peeves
Bid adieu to the birds, the trees are all gone

Where have the trees gone' To the ground. Where are the birds going' To the few patches of green spared the space-jam axe.

According to estimates from the environment lobby, “at least 5,000 trees” have been felled in the city in the past five years.

The culprits in this canopy carnage — albeit driven by the need to speed up traffic and provide improved urban infrastructure — have been the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC).

The latest in a long casualty line have been the 80-odd trees on the boulevard between Kankurgachhi island and Phoolbagan island, and in Beleghata, this weekend.

Entally and Kankurgachhi, VIP Road and AJC Bose Road, Gariahat Road and Rashbehari Avenue are all bidding goodbye to the greenery.

“We have petitioned various agencies but the tree-felling madness continues… There seems to be no other way for us but to move court to save the city’s greenery,” says Bonani Kakkar of Public.

Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty has belatedly announced a Rs 35-lakh scheme to ensure large-scale afforestation on the stretch of the Maidan adjoining Jawaharlal Nehru Road.

But has too much damage already been done' “Waking up to the sound of chirping birds in the city seems like a thing of the past now,” rues S.R. Banerjee, state director, World Wide Fund for Nature–India. Banerjee blames the bird exodus on the sudden spate of tree-felling.

“Big trees have traditionally been the nesting places of birds. When trees are being felled indiscriminately, birds stop breeding and go away,” explains V.K. Yadav, conservator of forests, wildlife.

For now, say bird-watchers, the fleeing feathered kind is choosing green pockets like Salt Lake. “Birds are congregating in the few remaining green patches,” says Kushal Mukherjee of Prakriti Sansad.

With no rules laid down for tree-felling in non-forest areas, there is no accountability. “We are still awaiting a report from the felling agencies on the replantation of trees,” complains Shyamal Sarkar, member-secretary, state pollution control board.

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