GB’ Blog 11

Svanir is our “Sacred grove”. I believe in my heart of hearts that many benign spirits of the plant kingdom live here. Since we have always sided with the trees over bricks – often to the chagrin of civil engineers and contractors, the benign spirits will caution us of danger as well as protect us.

We however, fear that our wonderful wild, natural surroundings will soon fall under the destructive scanners of city planners, egged on by real estate interests. In the not too distant future, and notwithstanding the protection offered by the half a kilometer eco sensitive area around the Chandaka- Dampara sanctuary, the breeding ground of tiny birds, butterflies, and unseen terrestrial life, the life of all mature trees will be sacrificed to provide homes to humans, for shops and … “what not”. The homes of birds, butterflies and insects will vanish. The trees and plants we are co existing with will become an oasis of the Chandaka region.

A couple of days ago, when I began to write this, I had personally witnessed what the “what not” of the previous para actually meant; it meant drains, yes you read correctly : drains. Drains have priority over shade giving and flowering trees!

On the pretext of enlarging a storm water drain adjacent to the boundary wall of an Apartment complex, mature trees were sacrificed all too quickly. Fifteen years ago, when we were not ‘smart’ citizens of the smart city Bhubaneswar, residents had planted these trees; trees that provided a place to rest to tired travellers and hawkers, as well as shade for car parking. During heavy rains in the earlier years, the natural slope of the land discharged the excess rainwater to a natural drainage point. During the dry season, city refuse was dumped at convenient corners and picked up the next day by tractor trailers.


Then Bhubaneswar became included in the country’s list of Smart Cities; and we all automatically became smart. Road surfaces were dug up multiple times to accommodate power and telecommunication cables. Drains were dug up all over; drains that had an open top or hastily placed cement blocks with gaping holes! The newly declared smart citizens could now conveniently dump garbage all along any main road, invisible to the commuting eye. Within a short period of time, the smart drains became garbage choked. Removal of such garbage became a project itself. Colatteral damage? Scores and scores of trees once planted by the then unsmart city!

Trees were of course planted alongside construction activities but their survival to planting ratio remained very poor. When city authorities had become casual about the need for a leaf canopy rating of above 6 for a city, the non stakeholders began to lop off branches and even the main trees. Complaints reached deaf ears.

I have tried to search for photos taken earlier of the apartment complex boundary but in the context of the following ‘Breaking news’ I am uploading just the latest. I hope to record the comparison through a later post, after locating the earlier photos.

Just a couple of days ago, I came across news of indiscriminate felling of two hundred mature trees in the heart of Bhubaneswar; trees that had withstood decades of cyclone years. These life giving forms of nature were falling under the non renewable energy run, motorised dozers and portable saws! Why? Again for ‘priority’ reasons like city expansion, infrastructure building and for accommodating the residential need of the so-called important persons.

5th June World Environment Day. We will get to hear about the need to protect the nation’s green cover from the same persons who actually believe that development means sacrifice. Sacrifice of the green senior citizens.

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