Bhopal Faces Environmental Crisis: 29,000 Trees To Be Cut for Ministerial Bungalows

Bhopal Faces Environmental Crisis: 29,000 Trees To Be Cut for Ministerial Bungalows

The proposal is being vehemently opposed by several organizations. Local residents have initiated the ‘Chipko movement’.

Bhopal: A significant environmental crisis is unfolding in the capital city of Madhya Pradesh. Nearly 29,000 lush green trees are slated to be cut or relocated to make room for the construction of bungalows for ministers and legislators. The proposal is being vehemently opposed by several organizations. Local residents have initiated the ‘Chipko movement’.

On June 13, women emotionally embraced trees in Shivaji Nagar and Tulsinagar — which will be affected the most by the proposed felling of trees. They argued that these trees were planted and nurtured by elders like their own children. According to them, it is unjust to cut lush green trees for building government bungalows.

Meanwhile, on June 14 evening, social activist Umashankar Tiwari staged a protest near Nutan College by chaining himself to a tree. “Under no circumstances will we permit trees in Bhopal to be felled. Environmental protection is the duty of every citizen. Sacrificing trees for the sake of ministers and legislators will not be tolerated,” he declared.

According to experts, environmental changes such as climate change and increasing global warming are causing temperatures in cities to reach 50 degree Celsius due to deforestation and the creation of concrete jungles. Bhopal’s temperature is balanced by thousands of trees surrounding urban areas. However, if 29,000 trees are cut down, they said, the balance could be disrupted, and the city might suffer like other major cities.

Reports indicate that new housing and apartments are proposed to be built for ministers, legislators and officers at a cost of Rs 3,000 crores. Consequently, there is news of trees ranging from 30 to 50 years old being cut down, sparking public outrage.

Under the government’s redevelopment scheme, discussions are underway for constructing houses for ministers, legislators and officers in the Shivaji Nagar and Tulsinagar areas.

During a conversation with The Mooknayak, Municipal Corporation Councilor Guddu Chauhan stated according to previous counts, there are more than 60,000 trees in this area. He urged the chief minister not to allow any more trees to be cut down. Instead, the bungalows should be built on the land earmarked for the Smart City.

Bhopal, renowned as the city of lakes, is considered one of the select capitals known for its lakes and natural wealth. The proposed plan is said to dismantle houses built among trees planned in the 1970s.

It is clear that if houses are demolished, trees will also be cut down. However, Chief Minister Dr Mohan Yadav asserted this plan has not progressed, and the government is serious about the environment. Trees will not be cut down, and if necessary, it will be shifted.

However, environmentalists rubbished the proposal of shifting the trees. According to them, these trees are the lungs of Bhopal, making this area the greenest. Previously, the government had shifted trees of the Smart City to Kaliyasot area, but none survived. Cutting these trees will increase heat smog and ozone pollution, leading to increased temperatures.

Environmentalist Subhash C. Pandey stated that a survey revealed that in the last 10 years, due to construction activities, the green belt in Bhopal has decreased by 30%. “Along with this, there has been a decrease of 20% forest cover in the last five years,” he told The Mooknayak.

After clearing 225 acres of green areas at nine locations where trees were cut, concrete jungles came up there. This has led to severe heat in the summers in the city. “This time, the average temperature has increased by five to seven degrees. The city has suffered the most environmental damage between 2014 and 2021. During this period, nearly 80% of trees were cut down. Around 20% of tree felling occurred between 2009 and 2013,” he said.

Professor Rajchandran’s report published in 2016 highlights the diminishing green belt by analyzing Google Imagery and other government data. For this, the city was divided into 15 major areas, and three roads (BRTS Hoshangabad Road, road leading to Kaliasot Dam, and NT Nagar’s Smart Road) were sampled. Analyzing 345 acres of land in 11 main areas near these roads, it was found that the greenery here had completely disappeared in 10 years. In just 11 areas, more than 1.55 lakh trees, which were over 50 years old, were cut down.

Bhopal is rapidly developing. Many major projects have been prepared and completed in the last 10 years, while some are still ongoing. Thousands of trees have been cut for these projects. It should be noted that 6,000 trees were cut for the construction of the Smart City.

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