“Under trees, the urban dweller might restore his troubled soul and find the blessing of a creative pause,” said German architect Walter Gropius.
Yet, in the name of urbanisation, industrialisation and building smarter cities, trees are cut unceremoniously to pave way for concrete jungles. Sadly, in almost all the cases, there is little provision to replant or relocate the trees. Whereas, for one of the UK’s top concrete removal specialists this time has never been busier, clearing up the concrete to make way for more communal and areas for trees and plants.
Development and urbanisation are both essential, yet, cannot be effective futuristically unless we make peace with our environment. Urban trees or urban forestry is a critical part of the urban infrastructure and the faster we accept it, the better.
Policymakers, city planners, educators, researchers and community activists who spoke to Pune365, unanimously advocate the urgent need to focus on increasing our urban tree cover:
“Pune loses several lakh trees every year to real estate…
Ironically real estate in areas in Pune with low tree densities have not appreciated like those that have protected it’s tree densities,”says Dr Anupam Saraph, Researcher, Innovator and Future Planning Expert.
“The disappearance of trees has caused Pune to have warmer days, lose it’s winters, made its air less breathable and if course destroyed it’s shade,” adds Saraph.
Colonel (Retd) Shashikant Dalvi, city based environmentalist says that at least eight trees are required per person every year to provide oxygen and Pune currently has one tree per person.
“740Kg* of oxygen is required every year per person. One fully grown tree can supply up to 100 Kg of oxygen per year.
As per the tree census, we just have about 30-40 lakhs trees, which is just at par with the current population that is growing rapidly.
Whereas in the USA for example, there are ample amounts of timberland for sale, the same cannot be said for other countries. Developers acquire land and start creating concrete jungles, ignoring the tree cover. The air quality of Pune has also seen a drastic drop due to the increase in carbon dioxide levels.
Various animals and birds have also disappeared from the city because of lack of native trees to nest. Moreover, around 800 two-wheelers are registered everyday in Pune, increasing the burden to replenish the quality of air. This then causes a hot bed of various respiratory diseases.
“A research by eminent environmentalist Prof Madhav Gadgil released in 2011 submitted to the Kerala government highlighted the dangers to mangroves and tree covers of Kerala.
The mangroves are the first line of defense. During the Kerala floods, there was no provision to break the gusty flow of wind and huge tides due to the destruction of mangroves. Huge mud slides very witnessed too. Percolation rate also goes down hence the moisture of the soil is also lost. The ground water recharge is also hindered.
“Moreover, no action is taken against the builder lobby or the government for rampant tree cutting in the name of development without making alternate solutions for the loss.
There are various thumb rules enlisted under the town planning norms that has to been adhered to while undergoing any type of construction, but these aspects are often ignored by the builders and there is no one to keep a check on.
The growth plan should be environment friendly or else this will continue and people will face a multitude of problems,” adds Col Dalvi.
For The Record:
Section 152 of Criminal Procedure Code of India (Prevention of injury to public property), 1973 and section 20 (C) of the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, empowers a police officer to prevent any injury attempted to be committed in his view to any public property, movable or immovable, or the removal or injury of any public landmark or buoy or other mark used for navigation.
Section 151 of Criminal Procedure Code of India allow arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences.
*Data Source: BBC Science Focus
#Curated and produced by Loveleen Kaur for Pune365 and first published in 2018. Reproduced in public interest.
#All views expressed in this column are those of the individual respondents and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
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