Grandma\’s Tales

May 1, 2007

Grammar – 34 Rape of my city

Filed under: Language — Rajesh @ 7:15 pm

When I posted my concern about the Corporation’s plan to build structures on Elliot’s beach, I was advised by “knowledgeable” people to look at the plans carefully before passing judgment. Now we all know what’s likely to happen to our beloved beach (Posted as “Want to save Elliot’s beach?” and “The Elliot’s beach saga”) if we are not eternally vigilant.
Now we are confronted with the next problem. If you haven’t already noticed it, it is the merciless chopping of trees in the name of road-widening. Sardar Patel Road recently lost a huge, invaluable legacy (our loss is someone else’s gain!) in the felling of a number of avenue trees. Tree experts say these were 60-70 years old and their contribution to our enviromment was immense. The same thing has happened in Nandambakkam. There, the excuse was “pruning”!
Exnora got wind of another heinous plan. Trees are going to be felled in many places in T.Nagar and Alwarpet. Please visit these places for a last darshan! Fortunately, Exnora has filed a petition in the court against this (silly, not the darshan, the chopping).  I’m producuing the petition below. You’ll read the details about the plan in it. The document also teaches us how to argue against an obvious crime and how to write a petition to include strong arguments. In that sense, the petition is of interest to learners of both the language and law. This, let me admit, is a revised version.

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS

(Special Original Jurisdiction)

M.P.No.                                                                       W.P.No. 14626 of 2007

D. Vijaya Bhaskaran,                                                                

No.70, Alwarpet,

Chennai – 600 018                             

              Petitioner/Petitioner  Vs.

1.       The Government of Tamil Nadu

          By its Secretary

          Highways Department

          Secretariat, Chennai – 600 009.

2.       Corporation of Chennai

By its Commissioner

Ribbon Building

Chennai – 600 003.                                      Respondents/Respondents

3.       The Secretary

Department of Forest

Government of Tamil Nadu.                            Proposed respondent

AFFIDAVIT FILED BY THE PETITIONER

         

I D. Vijaya Bhaskaran son of Doraikannu, Hindu, aged about 56 years, residing at No.70, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600 018, do hereby solemnly affirm and sincerely state as follows:

1. I am the Petitioner herein and I am well conversant with the facts and circumstances of the case. As such I am competent to swear this affidavit.

2. It is respectfully submitted that I have filed the writ petition with an interim prayer restraining the respondents from felling trees on North Usman Road, South Usman Road, G.N. Chetty Road and TTK Road and any other part of Chennai.  However, in the main prayer I have asked for mandamus directing the 2nd respondent to construct multi-storied and underground car parking area in T.Nagar and such other commercial areas of Chennai. I understand that there is an inconsistency with the interim

and main prayer.  It is respectfully submitted that the grave concern for the present is felling of huge, mature trees in the name of widening of the road and hassle-free flow of traffic in the city.  Even the 1st respondent, wherever carrying out road widening activities, has uprooted several huge trees without assessing the possibility of saving the trees or transplantation.  As of now there are no guidelines/rules and regulations governing tree felling and tree preservation. 

3. It is respectfully submitted that about 70% of Chennai city is already covered by concrete and black top.  About 10 lakh vehicles are being used by the city population and hundreds of vehicles are added every day.  Construction activities and emission from vehicles are polluting the atmosphere to a hazardous extent.  These man-made health hazards could be effectively prevented only by increasing the green cover particularly in highly polluted areas and where the population is dense.   However, in the instant situation about 72 trees on Sardar Patel Road, at least 29 on Gandhi Mandapam Road, 5 on Besant Avenue and 260 on the IT corridor (Old Mahabalipuram road) were felled. Of these, 145 cut along the IT corridor have been transplanted. But there is no information on how many of these survived. Based on the information available, it seems reasonable to estimate that more than 200 trees have been cut without being transplanted in the city.

5. It is submitted that the Stockholm Declaration of United Nations on Human Environment, 1972, reads (Principle No.3) inter-alia, “Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality, and adequate conditions of life in an environment of equality that permits a life of dignity and well-being and bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations.

7. It is submitted that Article 48-A in Part IV (Directive Principles) of the Constitution of India, 1950 brought by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976, enjoins, “State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of the country.” Article 47 further imposes the duty on the State to improve public health as its primary duty. Article 51-A (g) imposes “a fundamental duty” on every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural “environment” including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures. The word “environment” is of broad spectrum, which brings within its ambit “hygienic atmosphere and ecological balance.” It is, therefore, not only the duty of the State but also the duty of every citizen to maintain a hygienic environment. The State, in particular has a duty to shed its extravagant unbridled sovereign power and to forge a policy to maintain ecological balance. Article 21 protects right to life as a fundamental right.

It is submitted that enjoyment of life including right to life with human dignity encompasses within its ambit, the protection and preservation of environment free from pollution of air and water and sanitation without which life cannot be enjoyed. Any contra actions would cause environmental pollution. Therefore, hygienic environment is an integral facet of right to healthy life and it would be impossible to live with human dignity without a humane and healthy environment. Environmental protection, therefore, has now become a matter of grave concern for human existence. Promoting environmental protection implies maintenance of the environment as a whole comprising man- made and natural environments. Therefore, there is a constitutional imperative on the statutory authorities including Municipalities, not only to ensure and safeguard proper environment but also take adequate measures to promote, protect and improve the environment,

8. It is respectfully submitted that a few Indian states have made enactments to promote, preserve and prevent the felling of trees both by individuals and by statutory authorities.  It is pertinent to point out that the Delhi State has The Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994 and Maharashtra has The Maharashtra Tree Act and The Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Preservation of Trees Act, 1975 and Andhra Pradesh has A.P. Water, Land & Trees Act, 1994.  The basic object of the above Acts is to make better provision to protect and preserve trees in urban areas by regulating felling of trees and providing for planting of adequate numbers of new trees in those areas. 

9. It is respectfully submitted that unfortunately the state of Tamil Nadu does not have any law specifically to protect and preserve trees.  The authorities under whose jurisdiction the trees are being felled are not making any scientific analysis or systematic approach to preserve the existing trees.  For them, it is easy to remove even a huge, mature tree on the ground of decongesting and widening roads instead of preventing road encroachments, pavement hawking and construction of multi-storied commercial complexes without providing car parking area. The authorities are not showing much interest in preserving the trees or promoting the green cover in urban areas.  Tree planting has become more ritual than essential.  Unless the responsibility and duty is cast upon the individuals and on the statutory authorities, tree felling will continue for every small convenience.  Therefore, there must be serious thought and sincere exercise to preserve trees instead of axing them.  Hence, it is necessary that every statutory body which has a vital role in developmental activities must be warned about reducing green cover, for which a necessary machinery must be evolved. 

Therefore, it is respectfully prayed that this Hon’ble Court may be pleased to appoint an expert committee to monitor tree preservation and felling pending disposal of the above writ petition and thus render justice.

Therefore, it is respectfully prayed that this Hon’ble Court may be pleased to issue of WRIT OF MANDAMUS or any other order or direction in the nature of writ forbearing the respondents from felling trees without scientific examination in Chennai City and other urban areas including State and National Highways and further direct the 1st respondent to formulate guidelines and regulations including constituting tree authorities for protecting, promoting and against felling of trees in the urban areas and highways of the State of Tamil Nadu and thus render justice. 

Solemnly affirmed and signed his name in my

presence on this       day of April 2007                     BEFORE ME

at Chennai.                                                           

                                                        

ADVOCATE: MADRAS

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