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Tree Trimming

Kolkata witnesses ‘unscientific’ pruning of trees

Trimming makes billboards visible, street lights reach roads: Official

Subhajoy Roy | Published 25.09.22, 01:12 AM
Branches of a trimmed tree hang towards the road through billboards in Puddapukur

Branches of a trimmed tree hang towards the road through billboards in Puddapukur

Sanat Kr Sinha

Trees are being pruned across the city to make space for billboards and to ensure that street lights reach the road.

And the same mistake that is made every year is being repeated, said environmentalists.

The unplanned and unscientific trimming will again distort the balance of trees and make them prone to toppling even by a strong gust of wind, said naturalists.

Branches are being chopped off based on how easy it is to lay hands on them. In many places, all branches on one side of the tree have been removed, but the opposite side remains untouched, making the trees heavy on one side.

The indiscriminate trimming also takes away from the aesthetic appeal of a road that the tree lent to it, said environmentalists.

Metro went around the city and found that the last-minute tree-trimming before Puja was being done without any thought to the health of the trees.

Distorting balance

Almost all branches of a tree hanging towards the road in front of Bhowanipore Swimming Association in Puddapukur had been chopped off. But the branches towards the top of the tree or the branches towards the building standing next to the tree had not been removed.

Arjan Basu Roy, a naturalist, said he was pained to see that the trees were again being chopped off without any care.

“If the branches from only one side of a tree are removed, the tree loses its centre of gravity. The balance of the tree is disturbed this way,” said Basu Roy.

As the process — trimming one side and leaving out the other side — is repeated over years, the tree starts to lean towards the side that becomes heavier with leaves and branches.

“During a sudden gust of wind one day, the tree topples and gets uprooted,” said Basu Roy. Examples of trees toppling during storms are common.

A pruned tree on Sarat Bose Road on Saturday.

A pruned tree on Sarat Bose Road on Saturday.

Sanat Kr Sinha

Billboards and lights

A branch of a tree on Sarat Bose Road, near Puddapukur, wore a barren look as all the foliage had been hacked. The hard and thick tree branch, projecting towards the road, has wound its way through gaps between hoardings.

On many other roads — like Rashbehari Avenue and Central Avenue — the branches and foliage have been chopped only up to the height of the billboards or the empty scaffoldings erected for the billboards.

“The current tree-trimming work in progress is primarily to ensure that billboards are visible to people and the lights from street lamps do not get blocked by foliage,” said a CMC official.

An environment activist cited the example of a Puja on Loudon Street, near the Loudon Street-Shakespeare Sarani intersection.

“Giant trees on four sides of the pandal have been chopped off indiscriminately. On the rest of the road, even overgrown branches have been left as they are,” she said.

Turning ugly

The unplanned trimming also makes a street ugly, said Abin Chaudhuri, the architect who has designed many public spaces in Kolkata and New Town.

A series of trees with their canopies make an avenue look beautiful. The trees create a visual appeal. “But when the trees are trimmed randomly, the avenue loses the visual appeal,” said Chaudhuri.

Other than providing shade and protecting people from heat, the trees also are a relief from the concrete jungle behind them.

“The trimming, as it is happening now, takes the eyes back to the ugly concrete,” said a Ballygunge resident.

Last updated on 25.09.22, 01:15 AM
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