Forest department scouts for land in Kochi for planting trees

DMRC teams have admitted that they were unable to find land for planting saplings in the city

KOCHI: As the compensatory planting of trees for the Kochi Metro rail project has ran off the rail for want of land, the Forest officials are scouting for land in the city for planting the saplings.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) officials have admitted that they were unable to find land for planting saplings in the city. It is estimated that the DMRC may have to axe at least 1,200 trees for completing the project for the proposed alignment of the metro project from Aluva to Petta.

The Social Forestry Department had issued permission for cutting and removing over 750 trees along the alignment and at places where it proposed to set up casting yards and stations, said an official of the department.

While giving the permission to chop trees, the Social Forestry (SF) department had insisted that the DMRC should plant at least 10 saplings and nurture them in place of every tree that is cut down. Till now, the DMRC has filed around 10 applications for cutting trees. However, the Metro authorities could plant only 500 saplings in lieu of the trees that were axed. Shortage of land for compensatory replanting was the biggest challenge before the DMRC in implementing the directive, admitted an official of the agency.

According to a DMRC official, the agency is guided by the principle that compensatory planting should be mandatorily carried out. He claimed that the corporation had planted around 2,000 saplings in a plot owned by the HMT at Kalamassery. The corporation had again approached the HMT officials with the request for allotting more space for planting the saplings, he said.

With the DMRC unable to find land, the onus is on the Social Forestry officials to identify places where they can plant trees.

The Department is planning to organise a workshop on November 14 to find “ways and means for planting and nurturing the compensatory planting for Kochi Metro Rail,” said a senior official of the department.

The workshop will be held at Amrita College of Arts and Science, Edappally. The Forest officials are planning to invite representatives of various religious institutions, residential associations, environmentalists, officials of the Railways and Chamber of Commerce to the meeting with the hope that the invitees would permit planting of trees on their holdings. The department will also reach out to the administrators of various, science organisations, Cochin University of Science and Technology, public sector companies like Cochin Port Trust and Petronet, Port trust for space.