Published On : Thu, Dec 25th, 2014

Govt wakes up to plight of city’s choking trees; suggests permeable footpaths to save greens

Nagpur: As the city is progressing, life is desperately in need of breathing… ! A whiff of fresh air, clutter free and non-polluted atmosphere is not only required by humans but all those green living beings which have braved rough weathers to keep the city’s green look intact. But the extent of concretization has certainly weakened the roots of many trees lined up across roadsides. The strong winds and rainfall that the city witnessed couple of months back have uprooted hordes of trees at bustling places. Even a man lost his life…But what about the trees which are on the verge of dying in great numbers, thanks to the choking footpaths.

Now it seems the government is waking up to the alarm that it’s now or never! The union ministry of urban development has expressed alarm over practice of state governments and municipal bodies to completely concretize the space around a tree in the footpaths. The ministry has emphasized that the tiles used for constructing the footpaths should have holes in them so that water and air reaches the roots of the trees. The ministry has pointed out in the guidelines that in some case tree roots grow vigorously damaging the footpath. In other cases roots are cut off or damaged during pavement repair work.

In Nagpur, the footpaths were indiscriminately tiled, which has led to several tree collapses. The incidence of tree collapsing during heavy rainfall or strong winds have increased a lot. The roots become weak due to lack of air and water. Not only the tree should be given some space, care should be taken the top soil is not disturbed. Tiling should be done only on footpaths with heavy pedestrian traffic. Minimum area of 1.

25m x 1.25m around the area should be tiled. When a road is being widened it should be up to the trunk because roots will come under asphalt and may collapse due to strong wind.

Digging near the root for laying cables or pipelines should be avoided to the extent possible and in case it is necessary then care should be taken not to damage the root. Under no condition should the roots be left exposed.

Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) and Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) have not taken any remedial action. The report has another word of caution for municipal bodies. The amount of pruning of trees in parks and those growing on footpaths should be different.

The pruning should be less in case of latter because it is weak. Washing of trees on the road divider or on the footpath should be done every three months to remove dust and other particulate matter. This will allow the leaf to do photosynthesis without any obstruction.