| The illegally felled palm tree in Jodhpur Park. Picture by Amit Datta
Park Street, AJC Bose Road, Diamond Harbour Road, Shakespeare Sarani... Plunderers of the city's greenery were having a free run. Now, they have a lesson to learn from the arrest of a promoter in Jodhpur Park.
On Tuesday night, a team from Lake police station arrested the promoter and two labourers on charges of felling a huge palm tree in front of a property he was developing.
The police action followed a complaint from Mira Bhattacharjee, wife of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who urged the Calcutta Municipal Corporation to take it up with the police. 'I received a call from her, saying that the tree has been cut from its roots. Accordingly, I directed my officials to rush to the spot,' said Faiyaz Ahmed, mayoral council member (parks and gardens).
While this is the second such arrest in recent times, it is the first time that a promoter has been held on charges of a felling a tree illegally.
'Let the arrest be a message for all. We will not let go of anyone trying to eat into the city's green canopy. All police stations have been asked to be on the lookout for any such incident,' said N.R. Babu, deputy commissioner, (south).
On Monday, officials from the civic parks and gardens department turned up at 274, Jodhpur Park and found a tree hacked at its base. An inquiry revealed the felling was illegal. A complaint was lodged with the police station and a hunt for the owner began.
'Landlord Samar Das, in his late 70s, is suffering from cancer. He is in a critical state in a nursing home. But the promoter, Moloy Bose, was around and we arrested him and his two labourers,' said Sukumar Chakrabarty, officer-in-charge of Lake police station.
Sources said the arrests were made under Sections 188 (disobedience of an order duly promulgated by a public servant) and 290 (punishment for public nuisance) of the Indian Penal Code.
Shakespeare Sarani police on June 29 had lodged a case against the builders of a bus-stop on the road, near a girls' college. Large branches of a mango tree had been lopped off to make way for the bus-stop. The matter has been forwarded to the green bench.
'We were shocked to find the branches lopped off without consent,' said Gana Nath Mukherjee, officer-in-charge of the police station.
'We will step up our vigil so people think twice before chopping off trees,' said Faiyaz Ahmed, mayoral council member.