Sunday, 4 October 2015

Rabindra Sarobar Regulars Protest Tree Felling

Prabuddha NeogiKolkata: A section of morning walkers at Rabindra Sarobar, protested the felling of a tree at the Lions Safari Park inside the lake’s premises, today early morning. They also observed a sit-in demonstration near the gates of the Park and were joined by people from other parts of the city.

Protesters at the sit-in programme
Sudip Ghosh, bird photographer and a regular at the Sarobar, told WPC: “I spotted a dahuk family adjacent to where the tree stood and alerted the Park’s authorities on 28 September. A day later I found the tree hacked down to the stump and the birds vanished. Several migratory birds, including the brown breasted flycatcher, Asian brown flycatcher, and the bluethroat have been spotted in the lake. The lastnamed was the first sighing ever in the entire South Bengal this year." These birds may stop coming if their habitat is endangered, Ghosh feared, adding that he has since filed a complaint with the local police station over the tree felling.

The felled tree stump
Lions Safari Park is a project of the Lions Club of North Calcutta (LCNC), which looks after the maintenance of a part of the Sarobar, adjacent to Southern Avenue. LCNC had taken up the responsibility ever since the area was included as part of the lake.  

Dhruba Jyoti Chakraborty, another regular at the Sarobar, said: “The Park’s authorities aren’t aware of the law. The entire lake and its adjacent area are covered under the National Lakes Conservation Plan (NLCP). Article 48A of the Directive Principles of State Policy, prohibits felling of trees under the NLCP.” The Park authorities, Chakraborty alleged, has violated the Constitution. 

Social activist Sumita Banerjee, however, said that a token protest is unlikely to serve any purpose. Dense undergrowth in some areas of the lake, has led to an increasing number of snakes, mosquitoes and other insects that are a nuisance to the morning walkers, Banerjee said. The LCNC has thus cut the undergrowth in several places that accidentally included the tree. “I have spoken to them and they have assured that such things won’t happen in the future,” she added.  

The Asian brown flycatcher spotted at the lake
Arjan Basu Roy, senior official of Nature Mates-Nature Club, said: “The whole concept of cutting dead trees and the undergrowth for maintenance, beautification, or whatever purpose, is very wrong. Over 70 percent of medicinal plants are found in shrubs. Parrots, for instance, builds their nest only in dead trees that are also the fodder for algae and mushrooms. So, reducing greenery disturbs the whole ecological cycle.”

Ramesh K Bubna, former LCNC president, regretted the hacking of the tree. He assured to take necessary steps in this regard and check all possible recurrence.   

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