The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Salt Lake green drive hits the pits
- Civic body imposes tree-plant bar as roots damage sewer pipes and waterlines

Go for green. But if you are in Salt Lake, choose the spot for your sapling with care. Or else the authorities might see red.

With monsoon approaching and the township’s sewer lines not in the best of shape, the Salt Lake civic body has decided to put a bar on unplanned planting of trees. “As the township should not become a concrete jungle, people are welcome to plant trees, but not wherever they wish to,” Dilip Gupta, chairman of Bidhannagar Municipality, said on Thursday. “We have warned residents against planting trees on the sewer lines and water supply lines,” he added.

Ever since the birth of the satellite town, the authorities have urged residents to add a touch of greenery to turn Salt Lake environment-friendly. Thus encouraged, the residents, too, responded by planting trees in large numbers.

However, Operation Green seems to have backfired due to a lack of foresight on the part of the authorities and the residents, and given rise to a problem that is now snowballing into a major crisis.

“The roots of the trees have penetrating capacity. In many cases, the roots of big trees are damaging the sewer lines. This creates difficulty for us when we try to clear the sewer lines,” a municipality official said. “With the monsoons approaching, the clogged sewer lines can mean bad news for the residents,” he added.

Officials say their hands are tied. “We cannot take legal action against anyone for planting trees on the sewer lines and water supply lines. At the same time, these are damaging the township’s infrastructure. So, we can do nothing except try to create awareness and hope for the best,” the civic official said.

Sources say complaints from residents are pouring in about roots wreaking havoc, and the authorities are receiving requests to chop off the trees causing damage to their sewer lines. “In HB block, for instance, the roots of a tree planted in the backyard of a house have gone on to damage the sewer line of the adjacent plot. The plot-owner who suffered has requested us to take action. Such cases are piling up,” officials said. The major problem areas are Sector I and parts of Sector II, the older parts of the township.

This is one issue which has got the Opposition singing the same tune as the ruling party. “We are in favour of planting trees, but not at the cost of our own interests,” said Anupam Dutta, leader of the Opposition in Bidhannagar Municipality. “Even the trees planted on the pavements are damaging the sewer lines and in some cases, the power supply lines. The residents must think twice before planting saplings of big trees,” Dutta observed. He alleged that even in the parks, many big trees planted during plantation drives which later damage the infrastructure.

Residents say the municipality is gunning for the greenery in their backyard. “In several meetings, the chairman has urged us to cut trees. Most of us have trees in our backyards. Some have been asked to chop them down,” said K.P. Sengupta, a resident of AA block and a member of Bidhannagar Welfare Association.

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