Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Fiasco Of Planting Trees

Today morning dawned a new scene. Around 9.30 in the morning, just as we were getting ready for office, there was a kind of sober commotion outside house. Some people from the municipal corporation had come to plant trees in the neighbourhood. Everyone started gathering around as people realised what was going to happen.

Everyone in the area had been unprepared for this surprise visit. Rather, all were taken aback that new trees were even required in our area. My locality consists mainly of self-occupied houses surrounded by small gardens. Most of the owners have created their own greenery and plants in their little gardens. Also, the area has never been barren what with gulmohor, palm, parijatak, and other variety of trees growing in the area. Naturally, a tree-plantation drive was as much a novelty as an unnecessity.

The worst part of the drive was that none of the residents were informed in advance of such a drive. And secondly, to plant those saplings, the corporation workers were digging up the newly-laid footpaths. The workers went about their work unashamedly, and have already dug up the footpaths on both the sides of the road at several places. The dug up footpaths are now easy pitfalls for idle walkers who may not always look down as they walk.

The irate residents were very vocal in their disapprovals. One of the men in the group was heard saying: "पण मी म्हणतो, चांगले फुटपाथ खोदायला कशाला पाहिजेत?" The other one was heard saying how these men would just keep the pits open and never bother about planting trees or even covering them up. "ते लोक काय, त्यांचे काम करून गेले, आता कोण येऊन बघणार?"

Another irritated man angrily was showing everyone, who was ready to pay attention, how those workers had dug up exactly in front of his gate. The kaka who live opposite us had already shown all the trees in his own garden when those people had dug up the footpath on their side of the road. But of course, that didn't budge the workers. Their target was to dig up the platform for trees outside the compounds, not inside. What mattered if there were scores of trees inside! There were none on the footpath or at the edge of the road. That meant there were no trees!

One other man with an upright civic sense was ranting about how the local corporator was really not of much use, how he knew the corporator had climbed the ladder to success, and how he was irresponsible. The resident was also unhappy about how most of the residents had not even bothered to come out of their houses even when someone was digging up right in front of their houses. He ranted on loudly of their indifference to the wrong doings of the civic body.

Honestly, I found the situation hilarious. Here were people who were angry that the footpaths were being dug up, while the workers nonchalantly and diligently completed their digging and went away.

What I would certainly like to know is, who really had this great idea of digging up the footpaths to plant trees in an area where there were quite some trees? Who also gave them permission to do that? And why is it always that digging is done when the road is newly made or when footpaths are newly laid?