KOLKATA: KMC plans to identify and barricade spots, from where large trees were uprooted by Cyclone Amphan , marking “territories” so that new saplings can be planted at those very places. The step will be taken to save the now-empty spots from being usurped by hawkers, clubs or even state and civic agencies to carry out projects, like road widening or beautification of pavements.
The civic body may also form a citizens’ forum that will not only assist the KMC in its drive to replant trees to compensate for the huge loss of greenery but also to look after the saplings later.
After holding a meeting with state forest minister Rajib Banerjee and senior environment department officials on Saturday, urban development minister Firhad Hakim said more than 50,000 saplings would be planted in Kolkata, particularly in places that suffered a colossal loss of greenery. Chosen by experts, these saplings will be of deep-rooted trees that can withstand storm. But Hakim had a word of warning for some traders and real estate developers: “A section of traders doesn’t hesitate to chop off a full-grown tree that stands tall in front of their shops or establishments or obstruct views. This must end or else we will act tough.”
According to forest minister Rajib Banerjee, an estimated 16 lakh trees fell and greenery on about 1,600 sq km was damaged across eight districts, including Kolkata, by the cyclone. “A huge amount of oxygen-generating source have been destroyed and this needs to be replenished,” he said.
Banerjee told TOI on Saturday that his department had decided to take up a drive to transplant around 17,000 trees, which were uprooted in eight south Bengal districts, to Kolkata, Howrah, Bidhannagar and New Town. “About 4,500 trees, which are 20-ft-high and more than 10 years old, and about 12,500 trees, which are over 16-ft-high and are over three years old, have been found to be retrievable. Those will be transplanted,” Banerjee said. After replanting, special care will be required for several months to see that they gain stability to live on. He said the ‘Kolkata Regreening’ programme would be launched on World Environment Day on June 5.
“About 1.5 crore saplings are supposed to be planted under Sabuj Shri scheme across Bengal. Another 2 crore trees were added. Post-Amphan, a target has been set to plant another 3 crore trees, taking the total target to 6.5 crore in the next one year,” the forest minister said.