The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) on Monday swung into action and demolished concrete bases of trees along Russel Street and Middleton Street, 10 days after the high court ordered the civic body to raze them. By evening, a parks and square department team cleared the entire Russel Street and a 1km stretch of Middleton Street of concrete bases.
On July 19, the Calcutta High Court division bench comprising Chief Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and justice Arijit Banerjee had ordered demolition of unauthorised construction to protect and preserve trees on public roads. The division bench was hearing a writ petition filed by People United for Better Living In Calcutta (PUBLIC).
The bench set a steep deadline of one month for the KMC commissioner to complete the task and furnish an action taken report (ATR) in the court with his personal affidavit regarding the compliance of the order.
“As per the high court order, the demolition of concrete bases started from Russel Street and Middleton Street at Ward 63 in Borough VII from 11am on Monday. The action reinforced our faith in civic executives in compliance with the court order. It is a good start but there’s a long way ahead,” said Bonani Kakkar of PUBLIC.
Pradeep Kakkar, founder member of PUBLIC, sought demolition of concrete bases, which choke the trees to death, and prevention of any kind of construction around the trees in the future. He also wanted all the authorities concerned to comply with the Urban Greening Guidelines, 2014, in connection with construction of structures and concretization of pavements.
Reprimanding corporate entities, which sponsor the concretization and display their logos on the structures, the bench had questioned their high-handed method of functioning. When one of the companies — its brand name was found on the tiles of several such bases — was asked to explain the move, the counsel for the firm claimed they had carried out the construction in concurrence with the civic body. But the KMC counsel said no such permission was ever granted to any agency.
“Concrete structures at the bases of trees are ubiquitous and had assumed the proportion of an epidemic of late. As soon as the base of a tree is concretized, it becomes the source of hectic commercial activities like hawking or even establishing idol. At some spots, temples come up in no time, constricting the growth of trees. People then start putting up advertisement by driving nail into the stem,” said Pradeep Kakkar.
Source: The Times of India