CHENNAI: Whether a 48-yearold rain tree in Poes Garden will live or die depends on its neighbours. Located on the boundary of Sathyanarayana Apartments and a private property, one of the two parties wants it to be chopped, while the other wants to save it.
R J Mehta who stays on the fifth floor of the apartment complex has seen the sapling being planted and then walked under its shade for years. “The tree grew on its own between the two compounds. It provides us with a lot of shade andishometo many birds,” he said. A week ago, his neighbour who owns the bungalow where the major part of the trees roots are, decided to chop the tree and Mehta stopped him. He took up the matter with the city corporation, local NGOs and also got a letter signed from all neighbours to save the tree. However, his opponent is adamant on having the tree chopped, with some tree cutters weiding an axe on Saturday too before Mehta reached in time to stop them. Whether the future of the tree now depends on how the two neighbours resolve their dispute.
“The tree provides a lot of shade and because of it in summer we don’t feel the heat as much. Why can’t the other party understand the importanceof thetree.Itis atthecorner of the property and may be options like chopping a few branches should be considered,” he said.
TOI tried contacting the private property’s manager several times but he was unavailable for comment. On Saturday, he reached the spot with tree cutters at 6am but residents protested, they returned. The Greater Chennai Corporation officials said since the tree is on a private property, they don’t have a say.
Shobha Menon, founder Nizhal, an NGO said there is no law or act to protect these trees. “On saturday, we got a similar calltosave a treeon a private property. When we reached the spot, we found it is a rarebaobabtree ad after much convincing the owner decided nottochop it.In the absenceof a law, several such trees are at mercy of people in charge and they will continue to get chopped. We are endlessly planting trees but aren’t protecting the existing maturetreestowhich we are deeply indebted to for shade, biodiversity and oxygen.ATreeActistherein New Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka and there is a need for it here too. We are not saying trees shouldn’t be cut, but where they can be protected, they should be,” she said.