Friday, March 2, 2007

Butchering Trees and Pavements

Dear all,

As I spend another morning today trying to gather evidence of the trees , over 2500, marked for felling, I find I cannot shoot for more than some minutes. To see fully grown trees, of all shades and varieties, the type you cannot find in Delhi any more, some over 50 years old marked for felling in yellow ink and numbers etched onto the tree trunks, is more than I can accept. Behind the construction boards of the HSBS ( High Capacity Bus Service) lies a trail of disaster. Uprooted giants of trees, some axed, some bleeding at the roots, mercilessly felled.

I know of no other city where 8 land higways criss cross it. ( From exisiting 6 lane this will now become 8 lane with the new service). Cleave it through and hack all that in its way. And a citenzery whcih is so quiet that it took a week to even get the media to do a story on it, and that also only via a concerned reporter. There is such silence and such uncertainty. The isolation which can be afforded through the window panes of cars, where we sit an decide if we can afford to raise our voicesor maybe this will go away and no one will know. Like it never hapenned.

My friend the photo printer told me "dil dehal jaata hai jab mei us sarak per jaato hoon. Kitne bade and sunder per, aise hi kaat denge.?" My heart stops when I go on that road, will such big and majestic trees just be cut? Another friend who lives in Saket, refuses to look out of the taxi window, since it upsets her so much. Like it does me.

Whose consensus was sought. When this project was approved. Who made the decision that the road is needed. Who saw the traffic studies? Who justified it. Who executed it? How is the consensus made? How are such decisions taken?

In the last post I wrote about my inability to act. I wonder if it is the larger inability to act. How we seem to have said 'yes' without saying anything. How we maybe are caught up in our not wanting to neogotiate our little gains or how we justify them to ourselves (the city needs better transport! - read as "I like my car!"). There is not point thinking and pontificating if we are not prepared to participate in what is going on. The city has been changing as I write. By April end, the city would have lost over 3000 of its most glorious and old trees. Then we can get to work on time. I suppose - to a better future!

ravi agarwal

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