Residents tied rakhis to trees and pledged to protect them during a protest against Noida Authority’s decision to cut down trees in order to make space for a bio-diversity park in Sector-91.
Today, hundreds of residents and environmentalists conducted a protest against Noida Authority’s decision to cut down the trees in order to make space for a bio-diversity park in Sector-91. Residents, including children, also tied rakhis to trees and pledged to protect them. The Authority has already initiated the deforestation work. People from all age groups had turned out in great numbers to join the protest to save the forest. Small children were seen carrying banners with slogan stating the importance of trees in the environment.
The proposed bio-diversity park will be spread over 75 acres of land near the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway. It will become the city’s largest park upon completion overtaking Meghdhuttam Park spread over 28 acres of land in Sector-50. The area is home to more than five lakh residents and a large number of IT companies. The budget for constructing this park is Rs 50 crore.
The protesting residents said that the forest in question is the only remaining one left in the city and is the habitat of a vibrant wildlife. They also added that the forest is also a major source of healthy oxygen in the area and that Noida Authority has no right to undertake the deforestation operation as this would not only remove the area’s biggest source of oxygen but would also force the wild animals to move out of their natural habitat. “The officials of Noida Authority ought to take these animals into their own homes and let them live in their houses,” a resident remarked sarcastically.
Chhavi Methi, media coordinator for Chipko Delhi-NCR, told City Spidey that as a forest’s eco-system is already balanced, the decision to change it to a bio-diversity park makes no sense whatsoever. If the Authority wants to make a bio-diversity park then they ought to use a different piece of land. “The Noida Authority said that they are only cutting down eucalyptus plants as their absorption of ground water is harmful for water tables. However, palm trees also absorb a lot of ground water. Yet, palm trees are seen everywhere including within societies and government offices. By that logic, they ought to be cutting down palm trees as well,” Chhavi said.
“Wild animals build their shelters around trees but with felling of these trees, the authority will be stripping these animals of their homes. Nearby residents have been reporting that large numbers of nilgais, peacocks and deer could be seen in the area in the past. However, over the past few months their numbers have goes down,” Chhavi said.
Residents alleged that the Noida Authority also cut down neem trees. When we spoke to the officials of Noida Authority they confirmed that only one neem tree had been cut by contractor.
A forest department team visited Sector 91 on Friday and found that trees other than eucalyptus had also been cut down. “We have filed a case for cutting of five gum trees and two neem trees. We will inspect the area again and check if any other plant has been damaged as well,” P K Srivastava, Divisional Forest Officer, said.
Meanwhile, some other residents in Noida have also decided to tie rakhis to trees located outside their societies and to take pledges to protect them. Nisha Rai, AOA General Secretary of Prateek Wisteria, said that on August 8, she planted 21 plants outside her society and on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan she will be tying rakhis to them and acting as their protector. “In the role of a brother to these plants, I will protect them so that in future they may become a good source of oxygen for people,” Rai said.