Do Not Cut Our Lifeline: Save The Trees

It is heartening to see one full coloured page in the local edition of a national newspaper highlighting the message of Sri Akhilesh Yadav, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh on the occasion of the statewide celebration of the Van Mahotsav Saptah (Forestry Week) from 4th to 10 July, 2012. To quote our young and dynamic Chief Minister—“we all know the importance of tress and forests in our lives. Forests are not only life line for all living creatures and environment but they also play a very important role in conserving and increasing the water level of the earth. With growing urbanization of the modern civilization, the forests are diminishing day by day. In such times we must not only understand the importance of forests but should also strive to garner public participation for a massive and sustained TREE PLANTATION drive. I hereby appeal to all citizens of the state to come forward and participate in the VAN MAHOTSAV and plant as many TREES as you can, as it is your pious responsibility towards the present and future generations.”

I am sure all of us will agree with these laudable sentiments and contribute our mite to have ‘a tree in every house, every courtyard for a prosperous and vibrant Uttar Pradesh’. But what about the roadsides! Of late one can see frenzied activities in different parts of Lucknow where roadside trees are being cut ruthlessly in the name of constructing road dividers. I fail to see the logic of denuding the once tree lined and shaded roads in the name of unplanned urbanization. In several places there used to be narrow green paths running parallel to the roads on either side, which not only acted as road dividers but provided the much needed green cover as well. These trees are now being pulled down and replaced with concrete structures, negating the government proclamations of a greener state. 

We have had unprecedented hot and long summers this year, for a variety of reasons. I wonder if the stony and cemented stretches built in the name of parks have contributed in some way to make them more unbearable. What was once famous as a city of gardens, has become a city of stones and stone-hearts. Of course we cannot dismantle these so called parks, but at least the present rulers can start by planting some real trees to mitigate the grotesque visual and environmental effects of the existing tree/animal statues. 

Mr. Chief Minister must be aware of various such eyesores existing in the city and mocking at his noble sentiments for a greener Uttar Pradesh. I think it is high time our dynamic leader took concrete (nay green) steps to complement his populist slogans with visible actions which support them practically. Instead of uprooting the existing green cover let there be some real ground level activity to augment it further. Actually it would make more sense to have a dense green cover all along each dividing pathway. Similarly it should be mandatory for builders of housing/commercial complexes to dedicate some area for a proper green cover which should come up much before the premises become functional. I found this happening in London which owes its green cover to strict implementation of stringent laws. 

It is hoped that the government will do something more than merely issuing sweet worded messages. What is needed is a practical demonstration of its good intentions, a moratorium on cutting trees, unless they become life threatening to passersby. 

A Happy Forestry Week to all of us!  

Shobha Shukla - CNS
(The author is the Managing Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS). She is a J2J Fellow of National Press Foundation (NPF) USA. She has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP and taught physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent. She also authored a book on childhood TB (2012), co-authored a book (translated in three languages) "Voices from the field on childhood pneumonia" and a report on Hepatitis C and HIV treatment access issues in 2011. Email:, website: