Patna: The State government, for all its pretty noises about saving the environment, were roundly criticized on Saturday by hundreds of students who lined up alongside Bailey Road to observe the funeral of the many trees that were clandestinely hacked down, ostensibly to make way for a ‘flyover’. Instead of uprooting the trees and replanting them at suitable places, a practice that is now widely carried out by earth moving firms, the trees were hacked to stumps. Such is the lack of coordination, that the Forest department was either unaware, or did not lift a finger to save the trees.
Student members of the environmental group Tarumitra, from Mount Carmel School, and the Eco-task Force of Patna Womens’ College organized a memorial service and ‘Pindh Daan’ (ritual Hindu observance for souls of the dead) for the trees that were cut down on Bailey Road this morning. They had a right to be agitated, because the trees were inside a green strip in front of Mount Carmel school and Patna Women’s College, maintained and protected by Tarumitra!
Over a thousand students joined the prayer service holding candles, placards and floral wreaths. The Co-ordinator of the event, Devopriya Dutta said the students were not against flyovers and widening of roads in the city. She said, “We must look for alternatives other than chopping down of the precious trees in the process!”
Earlier, the students went on a delegation to the Forest Department and pressed to get large Earth Movers to trans locate trees from Bailey Road and other sensitive locations to safe places where they could be replanted. Members of the delegation and students of Women’s College, Smirti and Akanksha stated that translocating trees was not rocket science and that it was done all over the world.
The Principal of Patna Women’s College Sr. Jessie commented that that she was happy that her students were taking up environmental causes, and this would give them insight into the solutions we all look for. The students offered special prayers for the dead trees singing a funeral dirge specially composed for the occasion. When the dirge was being sung, they got the priest to chant sacred hymns and offer the traditional rice cakes at the Pindh daan for the dead. They also offered red vermillion marks on the stumps of trees felled for the fly overs.
The Principal of Carmel School, Sr. Serena stood by her students appreciating their effort to protect trees. “Having lived in Kuwait, in the deserts of Middle East for 18 years, I have come to realize how precious trees are in our lives! Every moment we are depend on the trees who purify our smoky air and give us fresh oxygen without ever asking for a price” said Sr. Serena.
Prof. Shahla Yasmin, the Co-ordinator of Eco-Task Force wanted a State policy on cutting trees for developmental activities. She said “Cutting trees should be the last resort because the Earth needs a hundred years to nurture a large tree on Bailey Road!”
A scholar from TISS, Mumbai, Siji VargheseSJ added that it was suicidal to knock off the old trees from the very crowded capital city.
The Mount Carmel students offered to observe a day of fasting for the trees by boycotting their tiffin boxes and walking barefoot. Some sported black ribbons signifying the solemn mourning for their friends. Students of NCC, NSS, Eco-task Force along with the departments of Sociology, Economics, Political Science and Zoology carried placards offering tributes and obituaries to their treefriends. Present also on behalf of Taru Mitra were D.N Prasad, Margaret Molomoo and Sr. Amala.