Sparking the ire of green activists, a few residents of sectors 21 and 25 in Noida's Jalvayu Vihar allegedly had trees cut down after obtaining permission from the Noida Forest Department.
Nine trees were cut down from different blocks of the two sectors. Private woodcutters were hired to do the job.
Though the RWA of Jalvayu Vihar Co-operative Housing Committee claims it obtained permission from the forest department before taking the step, green activists cried foul. They say such an act grossly violates the terms of the Tree Protection Act. They further alleged that such an act would not have been possible without the passing of bribes.
Vikrant Tongad, an environmental activist, explains, "The Act does not permit the issuance of an NOC for cutting down trees. The permission can be had only for pruning of trees and their branches, not for uprooting an entire tree!"
Tongad registered an online complaint with Citizen's Charter, a grievance redressal cell of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. In the complaint, he requested the chief minister to order an inquiry into the matter.
Trees being hacked off in various blocks of sectors 21 and 25
However, the chairman of Jalvayu Vihar Co-operative Housing Committee, DP Goel, has a different story to tell. He says, "The roots have damaged the walls of their houses. The walls have developed cracks due to roots growing on them. Also, the branches were touching the electric wires passing over Sector 21."
He further adds, "Several residents of sectors 21 and 25 had sought permission from the forest department before cutting down the trees. The department officials first surveyed the area before issuing permission."
City Spidey tried to contact retired group captain PR Shukla, who lives in Flat No K-1 of Sector 25. A gulmohar tree had been chopped down just outside his house. Though he was not available for comment, his wife, reasoned, "The spread of the roots has damaged the footpath tiles in front of the house. Also, the termite from the branches was spreading to our house, causing a lot of damage."
Some residents had objected to the move.
Nature lover Mahua Ghosh, a resident of Sector 25, recounts sadly, "Over the last 18 years, I had seen that gulmohar sapling grow into a tree. It had never caused any problems earlier. But now they claim the spreading roots have been damaging the tiles of the footpath outside the house."
When City Spidey contacted DK Goel, regional officer of the forest department, he said, "After receiving requests from the housing committee and individual residents, my officers visited the sectors for an inspection. They found that the trees were indeed causing damage to property and obstructing public movement."