Green Metro: Kochi Metro Rail Corp plant Saplings in Parks, Open spaces in city greening drive

Kochi:  Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), civic agencies and tree lovers are expected to roll out an inventory of ill-maintained parks and open spaces within a fortnight, to increase the city’s green cover.

Following this, the stakeholders will ready a ‘planting plan’ to make up for the loss of 477 trees that will be felled along the metro’s Aluva-Pettah alignment.

Another 500-odd trees were axed in the project’s casting yards. Which means no fewer than 10,000 saplings will have to be planted and nurtured by metro stakeholders.

“Trees will be graded based on their bio-mass. Those with smaller bio-mass will be planted in places where open space is less like either side of roads,” metro sources said.

The proposed greening plan is intended to increase green cover in parks and open spaces, including Subhash Park located in the heart of Kochi.

“Along with help from sponsors, we will erect tree guards to protect saplings. Tenders will soon be floated for a three-year operation and maintenance contract, so that saplings are well cared for and watered regularly,” sources said. As per the DMRC’s policy, 10 trees have to be planted and tended to, for every tree cut down for the metro.

Following concerns about the upkeep of around 2,000 saplings planted in HMT land by DMRC, the agency has taken steps to replant them and erect tree guards.

Though open spaces owned by public sector units and private firms abound in and around the city, many are wary of handing it over for planting trees.

“They fear that there will be opposition if the trees planted will have to be axed to make way for development initiatives. This is because of a recent Government Order under which Forest Department’s permission is must for cutting trees on public land.” Still, stakeholders have options like increasing the green cover around Brahmapuram garbage treatment plant, collectorate and government offices.

Tree lovers have for years been demanding steps to augment Kochi’s green cover since the city’s parks and open spaces have inadequate green cover.

As per metro’s environment impact assessment (EIA) report, tree felling for the project can be compensated for by planting the trees in the ratio of 1:10, development of green belt around the coach maintenance depot at Muttom and development of green ribbon along the 25-km alignment.