Workers toil to bring down the tree on Kalimati Road in Sakchi on Wednesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
The onward march of consumerism in the steel city seems to be trampling nature under its feet. What’s more, it is doing so legally.
A century-old tree along Kalimati Road in Sakchi was felled down on Wednesday by a private firm constructing a multi-storeyed shopping mall nearby. The 80ft tree, belonging to Tabebuia family, was cut after procuring permission from the forest department and utilities provider Jusco.
The act has triggered resentment among local residents, who alleged that it was not posing any hurdle to construction of the mall — named Super Centre — and was situated outside its premises.
City based-environmentalist and head of zoology department at Jamshedpur Cooperative College K.K Sharma has decided to take up the matter with both Tata Steel subsidiary Jusco and Jamshedpur divisional forest officer.
“Sakchi residents informed me about the tree being axed this morning. Since Jusco and forest office have granted permission for this, I will approach both,” said Sharma, convener of Yugantar Bharati, a social outfit fighting for environmental causes.
Shopkeepers in the area are unhappy. Sanjay Kumar Gupta, who runs a fruit juice kiosk on Kalimati Road, shared fond memories of the tree.
“My 70-year-old father says this tree had been there since his childhood. It sheltered people from heavy rain and scorching sun. We often see forest officials, social outfits and corporate houses preaching about the importance of conservation of greenery. But, no one has protested against this act so far,” rued Gupta.
BJP district president Raj Kumar Srivastava also expressed displeasure.
“Our Sakchi office is situated barely 100 metres from the spot. Today, I saw traffic being diverted as workers toiled to bring down the tree. I will talk to senior party leaders and take up this issue,” he said.
Owner of Super Centre Gian Taneja told The Telegraph that they waited for nearly nine months to procure permission from authorities concerned before felling the tree. “It was only after getting a nod from Jamshedpur divisional forest officer and Jusco that I hired workers to bring it down,” said Taneja.
Jusco and forest department passed the buck to each other. Jusco spokesperson Rajesh Rajan said: “Forest department gives permission for felling of trees. We gave clearance based on forest department’s decision,” said Rajan.
Assistant forest officer, Jamshedpur, A.K. Gupta, however, put the ball in Jusco’s court. “The area where the tree is located falls under Tata lease and not under our purview. So, we issued an NOC certificate,” said the official.
The five-storeyed shopping complex is eyeing an October opening.