Vrindavan, 2014.11.27 (VT): The heritage trees of Vrindavan are in grave danger of going extinct as a result of termite infestation. Although there are not all that many trees left in Vrindavan as they have been sacrificed to the so-called development and the greed of real estate speculators. A few ancient trees can be seen near the Vrindavan Research Institute and on the Vrindavan Parikrama Marg.
The trees near the Vrindavan Research Institute are in great danger. Many of them have dried up. The environmental activists of Vrindavan claim that the concretization on the roots of the trees has done great injury to them. The concrete on the roots is choking the trees. Because of this, many lean towards the road trying to stand on their roots which struggle to get water or air. The concrete covering does not permit water percolation or aeration for the roots, resulting in the slow death of the trees. When water fails to percolate, the trees begin to dry up which makes them susceptible to termite infestation.
These trees get hollowed out and unable to balance their weight, and are then easily uprooted in gusty winds. The trees in the Parikrama Marg are not safe either. They are facing a fate similar to that of the trees in Raman Reti.
All was well with the full-grown heritage trees of Vrindavan standing on the roadside until the previous Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Sushri Mayawati, opened up the state coffers for her Vrindavan dream project in 2009-2010. Mayavati’s dream project became nightmare for Vrindavan as it had to compromise with Vrindavan’s rich heritage whether it was the picturesque Yamuna Ghats, holy dust of Vrindavan or the heritage trees which were 70 -100 years old.
Several hundreds of trees were cut during that time in the name of road broadening and laying sewerage lines. Mostly all the trees on the Mathura-Vrindavan Road were cut down, as well as many on the Parikrama Marg and the Chhatikara-Vrindavan Road. Some trees were saved from the intervention of the court when it passed an interim order by banning any further cutting of the trees while hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by the Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance.
On Tuesday, Friends of Vrindavan began a project of administering pesticides to control the termites. The FOV staff was assisted by members of the Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance. Most of the trees that are infested are neem, which are not less than 50-70 year old.
Dhananjay Gautam, a senior BVHA member said that the negligence of the Forestry Department is responsible for the situation. “Protecting the old trees is more important than planting the new ones,” he said.
Madhumangal Shukla, who was the petitioner in the High Court to stop the destruction of trees in Vrindavan, said the time has come to file fresh litigation in the National Green Tribunal, which has banned the cutting of trees across the country. Until there is a legal order the Forest Department will not give heed to the problems related to the afforestation.
The Forest Department has not planted a single tree in those years in the Vrindavan municipal area.