Avishek G Dastidar
New Delhi, April 24, 2007
For a rugby field, 1,000 Delhi University trees face the axe
About 1,000 trees in the Delhi University’s North Campus have been marked -- most of them for felling -- in order to expand the university’s sports complex, so as to host rugby matches there during Commonwealth Games 2010.
These trees are around the university’s sports complex just outside the office of the vice-chancellor, Deepak Pental. The existing ground is not big enough for rugby -- therefore the need to remove the trees from around the ground.
The ground has been earmarked by the Commonwealth Games 2010 Committee for rugby.
Delhi University’s chief engineer GS Gupta did not deny the trees had been marked for felling. But he refused to say how many would actually be felled.
Pental said, “Of course some trees need to be sacrificed for development, but I surely hope it’s not a large number here.”
The organisers of the Games will need the permission of the forest department before the first axe blow falls. A forest department official said, “We have not been approached yet.”
The department may be able to save some of the marked trees, but not all.
Deep fissures have been made in the bark of many trees, which in itself, say some experts, will kill the trees. Govind Singh, a final-year MSc student at the School of Environmental Studies said: “The way the trees have been marked has been so unscientific and callous that even if they are not felled, they will not survive.”
Pental, too, is unhappy with the manner of the marking. “This is absolutely no way of marking trees,” he told HT. “I will probe the matter.”
Environmentalists said it was a perfect example of how unimportant trees were when it came to so-called development. “At our meeting with the CM earlier this month, we had stressed that there was no regard for trees vis-à-vis construction projects. This instance vindicates our stance,” said Ravi Agarwal, director, Toxics Link, and convener of Trees for Delhi, a forum of NGOs protesting the recent felling of trees.
Naturalist Pradip Kishen said: “Trees like the desert eucalyptus and others around the sports complex have existed since the 1930s. It’s quite a loss if they are gone.”