Work is underway, as the National Highways wing of the State highway department has consented to allocate Rs 35 crores for the project of widening the Pollachi-Coimbatore Highway into a 4-lane road. Though the project has avoided acquisition of lands for the development, it has brought with it, a devastating effect of cutting almost all the trees (nearly 1,700 of them) on either side of the road for the project.
These trees not only offer a scenic gateway for travelers and tourists who visit Pollachi but also offer shelter from rain and sun for passersby and supports livelihood for local residents and petty shop keepers.
Since the time, the work has begun huge, tall trees that are 60-100 years old have been abruptly dispatched in a matter of hours. The project has been approved without considering the tremendous loss of long stretches of green corridor, and work is carried out in the absence of any concrete plan or sustainable ways to reduce negative impact on the environment. With Pollachi and Coimbatore recording the highest Summer temperatures in the recent years, clearance of this long stretch of green cover will severely damage the environment and prove to be hazardous for healthy living of residents in and around Pollachi region in the coming years.
Though the law requires the NHAI to plant new saplings, thrice its number to compensate the loss, it will take a long time for them to grow and make up for the huge loss suffered. Also the continuous maintenance and nurturing of these saplings is expensive than transplanting, as it requires additional labor and costs - a lot of money and monitoring is required to ensure that every sapling planted reaches maturity. In the past, in projects such as Mettupalayam road, planting of saplings to recompense the loss of trees have not proven successful, shows RTIs and studies.
The legal process also requires any civic body to issue a notification about its plans to bring down trees and wait to hear and resolve public objections before going ahead. No such measures were followed.
Modern technology offers various solutions to transplant the trees, regenerate them and turn the treeless areas green in a much shorter span of time than required for growing new trees. Instead of being cut down, transplanting them in available public spaces, or along road sides that allows space, would reduce the impact. Many such pro-active, ingenious measures have been taken across India among developing cities like Hyderabad and Surat and have proven to be very successful.
Also measures like Natural landscaping, planning service lanes around trees, traffic regulation and public transportation solutions need to be found before completely destroying the precious green cover handed over to us by our forefathers.
So we kindly request you to consider measures that will enable Engineers and ecologists, citizens from the city and the countryside to join hands to find better design and transportation solutions that incorporate retaining the old trees, such as tamarinds and banyans, as essential components of roadsides for their varied and indisputable uses, and as representing a more refined aesthetic sorely needed for our cities, roads, and countryside.
Since the procedures like transplanting is a very sensitive process and requires utmost care and precision, we also suggest a formation of a Joint Action Commitee consisting of ecologists, botanists and environmentalists who will oversee and guide and ensure the successful transplantation of the uprooted trees. The tree transplantation technique will not only help us preserve trees but also allow the urban sprawl between Pollachi and Coimbatore to grow with sustainable development.