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Banyan tree bears brunt of Sikkim smart city plan

Government and the administration have taken the path of destruction, we will work for development and preservation: Passang Sherpa

Rajeev Ravidas Siliguri Published 02.07.22, 02:23 AM
The tree that was felled on Thursday night.

The tree that was felled on Thursday night. The Telegraph

An old Banyan tree within the under-construction shopping and parking square at the old STNM Hospital near MG Marg in Gangtok was felled in the stealth of Thursday night, hours after some political and social activists had gathered at the spot and pleaded against any such move.

Members of the Sikkimey Nagarik Samaj, Hamro Sikkim Party and other social organisations and individuals had all come together in front of the tree early Thursday morning, a day after they got wind that the tree would be felled. However, even after waiting for more than two hours when no one arrived to cut the tree, they had dispersed, expressing hope that the tree would not be felled.


However, around 10 in the night, the tree was cut with an electric chainsaw and removed from the site with the help of an excavator.

Passang Sherpa, the secretary of the Nagarik Samaj, condemned the felling of the tree under the cover of darkness as an act of cowardice and said the state forest department had given permission for the translocation of the tree, and not its axing.

“The forest department must let the public know where the tree has been translocated. The Banyan tree holds significance both from the religious and environmental points of view. This is an act of cowardice,” he said.

Sherpa said even though permission for felling the tree was given in February this year, it was executed in June by violating the forest department’s own order that bars cutting of trees from April to October. “The government and the administration have taken the path of destruction, we will work for development and preservation,” he said, while pledging to plant a Banyan sapling at the same spot.

The Telegraph couldn’t elicit a response from the forest department in the absence of M.L. Srivastava, additional chief secretary-cum-principal chief conservator of forest, who is away on leave.

The square is part of the multi-crore Gangtok Smart City Project that is being funded mainly by the Union ministry for urban development and partly by the Sikkim government. It is part of the Union ministry for urban development’s pan-India Smart City Mission to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of smart solutions.

The work on the Rs 2,284 crore Gangtok project started in June 2018 and is expected to be completed by June next year. A number of works from improvement of feeder roads and footpaths to construction of multi-level car parking-cum-shopping complexes have been taken up as part of the smart city project.

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