The Fight For 550 Trees In North Bengal
Tiasa Adhya reports the wave of protests caused by the proposed slating of 3000 trees in North Bengal, rallying support for the protestors and the movement.
Do you feel torment when grandfather trees are brought down mercilessly right in front of your eyes? Does your heart bleed when you bear witness to royal arches of emerald canopy being sacrificed in the name of development? If you too are tired of such mindless destruction, join the green camaraderie in the heart of North Bengal, where people have come together to stop the felling of 550 trees, including a large number of sal trees, bordering the biodiverse Gorumara National Park.
These trees are slated for felling in order to build a two kilometre long bridge over a railway track that sees the passage of two local trains everyday. Avoidable and unnecessary, the construction of this overbridge will serve little purpose, as the traffic in the area is minimal.
Is it the perverse prospect of timber that blinds the authorities? Why is nature perceived as an obstruction to development? What sort of development are we allowing at the cost of our environment? The value that trees bring to our lives lies beyond the concept of commerce and economics. While the powerful and ecologically ignorant turn a blind eye to the issues of climate change, a few band together for the right cause, resolutely presenting hope for a better planet.
Aggrieved by the proposed cutting of these trees, one such activist, S.P. Pandey took to social media, stating: “We won’t give up. Will you join us? Or do you still think voicing your dissent on social media is enough?”
As the movement to save the trees grows, several village communities have pledged their support to the cause. This green cover is part of an elephant corridor and serves as critical wildlife refuge, which if disturbed can cause repercussions of human-wildlife conflict.
After failing to dissuade the protestors, the authorities arrested S.P. Pandey along with seven others in an attempt to quash the matter. However, true to their words, the protestors did not relent and within a day earned a stay order from the High Court. According to recent reports, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has further ruled in favour of the stay order issued earlier by the Calcutta High Court. At the NGT trial, the state government presented the permission to fell about 3,000 trees, issued by the West Bengal Development Corporation. However, the NGT refused to take this order into consideration as in such cases, under the Forest Conservation Act of 1980, the Centre alone can grant permission after thorough examination.
A number of trees were cut down when the protestors were arrested, but many still remain standing. Further destruction has to be stopped and the forest has to be allowed to recuperate. More importantly, let this be our clarion call – no more trees to be sacrificed. The city of Kolkatta is showing its strong support as citizens gather signatures and organize protest marches. Join them by writing to the below mentioned individuals and demanding that the trees be protected.
PCCF, West Bengal
Mr. Pradeep Shukla,
Ph: +91 94 33 019850
District Magistrate Jalpaiguri,
Smt. Rachna Bhagat, IAS
Divisional Manager, Jalpaiguri Forest Corporation Division,
Mr. Dilip Yonzon
Tiasa Adhya is a student of Post-Graduate Programme in Wildlife Biology and Conservation, WCS-India and National Centre for Biological Sciences and is also a member of the International Fishing Cat Working Group.
Author: Tiasa Adhya