The price we pay for urbanisation

The road to our office used to have these huge banyan trees forming a bower. It was a great place to stop for a tender coconut. Now in the name of broadening the road we have lost every single tree on the road. My daughter is very up set by these tree cuttings and wrote a wonderful peice on this. Since it never got selected for publishing I would like to share with you all her article


And daughters grow

About the mother –tree, a pillar’d shade

High over-arch’d, and echoing walks between”

Milton, Paradise Lost, ix, 1101.

Half the bower during the cutting process

In the famous book by Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe made his house in a banyan tree. In yet another book “The chronicles of Thomas Covenant” the huge city of Revelwood was built out of a single banyan tree with multiple trunks that occupies an entire valley. In Bhagavat Gita, Lord Krishna refers to the banyan tree as a miniature forest and home to many living things. Many a story has been inspired by, and under this huge tree. But where does it stand in the hands of the forward marching, urbanizing man? These huge trees grow from a teeny- weenie seed and it takes several years for it to become the huge, beautiful tree that gives food, shade and shelter to squirrels, birds and other creatures. But in hours, it is cut down for road widening, building construction, flyovers etc., in the name of development (and pollution). We not only murder the tree but jeopardize the many animals and birds sheltering in it. The PVN Rao express highway in Hyderabad is planned for an astonishing 11.5km and to erect two pillars that hold it up, an average of ten trees are cut. Already the number of pillars runs to around 120 and we are only half way through. The picture shows a bower of banyan trees being cut down for road widening. It was so disheartening to see the shady enclave disappear in a day. We used to stop under the shade on a hot sweltering day for a cool tender coconut. Of course the city needs wide roads coz more cars can run faster. But are we doing the right thing? The least one can do is that for every tree cut, we plant five trees elsewhere in the surroundings to compensate for the loss of greenery.

Anusha Shanker

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