Mangaluru, Dec 24, 2015: Reports are rife that greenery on the road between Father Muller Hospital and Koti Chennaya Circle (Nandigudda Circle) in Mangaluru city will be only in memory hereafter as the government authorities have begun cutting trees for widening and upgrading the road as a four-lane concrete road.
According to a Forest Department official, of the 52 trees that would be cut for the project, 12 were axed on Dec 21, Monday night. The remaining would be brought down during this week. Re-planting on the stretch would be taken up later.
Mangaluru City Corporation planned to upgrade the stretch as a four-lane concrete road about five years ago. When there was a move to cut the trees, the matter went to court which stayed the process. Hence, the corporation satisfied itself by upgrading the two-lane tar road as a concrete road.
It may be recalled that citizens of Valencia, Kankanady and Jeppu in Mangaluru had tied ribbons around the trees on the stretch in order to save them from the axe in 2009 by holding "Vraksha Bandhan." When the MCC had decided to fell 43 trees on the stretch between Fr Muller Hospital and Nandigudda for road-widening and concreting purposes, the citizens protested against the move of the City Corporation by tying the ribbons. Also, when a few citizens approached the court against the felling of the trees, the court had stayed the process. The Fr Muller Hospital-Nandigudda stretch was the only road that had remained green inside the City.
Activist Vidya Dinker of Mangalore Citizens’ Forum for Mangalore Development said that in a recent meeting of the local residents, the local legislator had promised to develop the road into a model road. If the promises are not fulfilled, then the public will protest in future.
Ashok Mendonca, a member of a local technical committee, said, "A video presentation of a model road was presented before the residents. Our model road concept should have proper stormwater drains, footpaths, bus bays, bus stand, toilets, facilities for the petty shops owners, auto park, and seating facilities for the public under the trees which will be grown by the Forest Department. In the first phase, the road will be developed from Fr Muller’s Hospital to Gerosa School. In the second phase, the road will be developed from Gerosa School to Nandigudda. However, before developing the first phase of the model road, the authorities are felling thr trees.
The Forest Department official said that as the stay order has been vacated now the department was cutting down trees for the corporation to facilitate road upgrading. Of the trees being cut include rain tree, Peltophorum and goli mara. They are aged between 30 and 60 years.
The official said that the corporation has given land to the Forest Department for re-plantation on the same stretch. The land has been identified through a sketch for which the corporation has agreed in writing not to raise any objection. To compensate the tree cut, about 200 saplings would be planted along the road from July next.
The official said that cherry, badam, jamun and renja saplings would be planted. As they did not grow big as the rain trees do, they would be city-friendly. Importantly, they would not obstruct the overhead power supply lines.
A senior engineer at the corporation said that in the first phase, the stretch between the hospital and Fatima Retreat House would be upgraded at an estimated cost of Rs. 4.30 crore. The stretch is 785 m long. The stretch between the retreat house and the circle would be upgraded in the second stage for which estimation was being prepared. This road leads to the Mangaladevi temple, Kanti church and Morgan’s Gate and so on.