Thursday, March 13, 2008

Municipal tree policy needs to be publicised

Maybe there is no law that says you and I can’t plant trees on the roadside. But if you ask around for advice, people say it is advisable to secure permission from local authorities. Snag is no one seems to know quite how one goes about it; this includes those who have planted trees on their roadside.

Wouldn’t it be helpful, if the civic authorities declare their tree policy? Publicise their guidelines for roadside tree-planting? People could do with guidance on preferred species for palnting; specifications regarding the gap to be left between plants;and between a plant and the road edge.
The gap between trees here, on JLB Rd, is 10 to 12 steps.

At this newly planted stretch the gap between saplings is 15 to 20 steps.

Journalist and tree-lover Krishna Vattam says such guidelines were there during the days of Maharajas, particularly when Mysore was under Dewan Mirza Ismail. Horticulture authorities those days had it all worked out, down to the mapping of the types of trees that suited various localities. For instance, the horticulture department had planted, in and around Bannimantap and along the Jumbo savari route, certain variety of trees that flowered during Dasara season.
Mr Gouri Satya, another senior journalist, helpfully guided us to a feature on Mysore’s avenue trees that appeared in Mysore Samachar.
Avenue trees on JLB Rd, close to the railway station.

Today, people who plant trees on their roadside do so at their own risk. The city corporation would do well to publish tree-planting guidelines on its official website for the benefit of those who wish to plant on roadside and public parks. Instead of having to go through the rigmarole of getting the relevant application form and filing it in duplicate to secure municipal approval, public-spirited residents should be able to download from the website official guidelines, and also the format for a compliance report, to be sent, online, after they plant the saplings. Isn’t this what e-governance is all about?

Compliance report filed by residents should furnish details of the trees they have planted, the number, variety and location of the saplings. Such information would help Mysore City Corporation keep a record of the trees planted in town at citizens initiative. The data can be published in the city’s official website.

MCC’s permission however may not protect us against threats from other departmental road-diggers - public works dept. on road-widening work, the power supply and telephone people, the traffic police and those who lay underground sewage pipe.

Gokulam resident Mr A Madhavan, who had planted in front of his house a neem and honge well over a decade back with forest dept. help, says it is necessary to collaborate with them on the choice of trees to plant and on how to take care of them. “We can get better results by avoiding an attitudinal polarity vis-à-vis the government, which sometimes develops”, says Mr Madhavan.

He suggests we consult neighbours (we ourselves are neighbours to someone else) before planting on roadside. There is a danger in planting trees too close to the compound wall. He wouldn’t recommend gulmohar. It has shallow roots, he says, referring to the one in front of his gate that has its roots ruining his drive-way. And then there was this departmental bulldozer that suddenly showed up a couple of weeks and demolished some frontage cement drives, luckily, sparing the trees.

Dr.YNI Anand, who has persuaded his neighbours in Kevempunagar to plant on their roadside, would recommend Honge, Neem, Tachoma and other flowering trees that look beautiful during the season. Only hitch is the risk of someone stealing flowering plants. Dr Anand had saplings of crotons and the green hedge (worth over Rs.500) stolen from roadside in front of his house. This however didn’t deter or dishearten him from re-planting them. His point is that the samplings stolen from his street would have, anyway, been planted some place else.

1 comment:

ER Ramachandran said...

Indeed! If we can have a 'Tree Court' to give permission to cut or not, there should be a Tree Policy even before you appoint a Tree court.

SOM has rightly taken a cue from FORT- Mysore and has written a nice editorial.Hopefully the Dept. of Forest , Aranya Bhavan will come out with one.