India: Children’s Chipko revival to protect trees

The widening of this road will require relocation of 54 trees while 99
others will have to be chopped. Concrete compound walls and stone
porches are already being demolished on either side of the narrow road
to ease traffic that will flow from the Bandra-Worli Sealink. Using
the symbolism of chipko, the children want to make sure the Banyan,
Pipal, Sea Almond and palm trees in the area-some of which are more
than 100 years old-are not destroyed indiscriminately.

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“If we don’t stop now, Mumbai will be under water and we’d have a
modern-day Atlantis,” says 11-year-old Dhirubhai Ambani International
School student Madhav Subramanyam, who will be taking time out from
studying from his exam to hug as many trees as possible along with his
friends and neighbours.

Pointing at a blooming Frangipani tree, environmentalist and Nepean Sea Road resident, Bittu Sahgal says, “This is one of the oldest Frangipani trees in the city. To see another like this, you’d probably have to go to the national park.” Emphasising that residents weren’t consulted before the actual road widening process started, Sahgal asks, “How can a 100-year-old Banyan tree with roots that grow beyond 40 feet on both sides be transplanted?”

In May last year, when the BMC’s tree authority sanctioned the removal of 84 trees from the Haji Ali sea face for beautification of the promenade, 50 residents participated in a Vriksh Bachao Andolan. Some tied rakhis while others hugged the trees and tied friendship bands on them.

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