The Public Work Department officials mercilessly slashed over 100 trees, including 20-30 rare species of trees, shrubs and other medicinal plants on Tuesday at Kotturpuram Tree Park in Chennai.
The razing of trees was stalled after people and the authorities who maintained the area protested. On Thursday morning, officials from the PWD called it an ‘accident’ and promised to fix the damage caused and replant the area. For the revival of the green space, some saplings will be provided by Nizhal, an organisation for trees, which will then be replanted by the PWD workers.
“This is part of the ongoing work done by the Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust. We are removing encroachments, desilting the river, plugging sewage inlets and strengthening the bund along the Adyar River. Close to eight departments including Chennai Corporation, Metro Water Department, Town Panchayats are involved, and work began in around September. The Adyar River is one of the most important flood channels, and it needs to be restored if we want to avoid the devastation of the 2015 floods,” an official from the PWD department said.
“I was not in town on Tuesday when it happened. One of our gardeners, who usually works on the other end of the park, alerted the team later that day that some trees were being razed. When we tried to reach the PWD department on Wednesday morning, there was no immediate response,” Shobha, the founder of Nizhal, told The News Minute.
The revival project by the Central and state governments will cover 42 km across the Adyar riverbank. “This area is part of CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) and needs to be protected. We understand the efforts put in by Nizhal and also the love with which people have nurtured plants. All efforts will be made to restore the damaged area within two days,” the PWD official added.
Kotturpuram Tree Park, a local dump yard before 2006, was cleared and converted into a sanctuary for trees and plants by the efforts of PWD along with Nizhal. It is spread over 3.6 acres and is home to a number of trees and plants with an ecosystem of its own.