Target Green Boulevard
In November ’99 the local residents in and around Gariahat junction in South Calcutta and the passers by were astonished to find that some big trees have been felled down and the dead bodies were lying down on the roads. When environmental concern and need for conservation are being loudly talked, how such event took place? It has been ascertained that in connection with construction of the proposed fly-over at Gariahat crossing, Southern Avenue (a 2.5 k.m. long road runs east to west from Gariahat Road to S.P. Mukherjee Road) will have to be widened for traffic diversion.
Calcutta is very badly in need of both fly-overs(s) and broadening of roads and could have wished the plan a grand success, had it been any road in Calcutta other than the road in question, the Southern Avenue. This road is unlike many other roads in Calcutta and is really an exceptional one for its beautiful green cover on both of its sides and flowery garden and trees on the green boulevard accompanied by Rabindra Sarovar, a long lake with nearly 2.5 k.m greenery on its southern side. Here the question arises : How much the S.A. has to pay in terms of its green health for the above plan to succeed? The other way to put the question : How far we can go to welcome a new problem as a solution to an existing one? Concerned people including the experts feel that the construction planning has not taken the environmental consequences of the project seriously, neither the planners seem to bother for it on a long term basis. This is apparent from the contradictory messages made by two of our very responsible representatives. On denied any decision on cutting the trees and assured for discussion with all concerned before executing any further. This short lived by the Mayor-in-Council in charge of Parks and Gardens, CMC, with a declaration on uprooting of as many as 500 trees, which was later confirmed by the Hoogly River Bridge Commision, the company in charge of the construction. It was sufficient to confuse it further by the information (or misinformation!) that only the trees on the pavements will be cut.
Shri Subhas Dutta of Ganatantrik Nagarik Samity, Howrah brought the issue of Southern Avenue into limelight by organising an unique protest. On the auspicious day of Bhatri Dwitia, the day when sisters offer prayers for the long life of the brothers, the women members of Ganatantrik Nagarik Samity, Howrah, assembled on the boulevards of Southern Avenue. They prayed for the lives of the trees which are in imminent danger of being uprooted. Local resident association and the students of local schools have also joined the movement to resist cutting of the trees. , has made a very important census of the trees of Southern Avenue and has brought out a publication with interesting assessment.
Vasundhara feels that before going further, the fly-over construction work, which has started in November,’99, should be immediately stopped unless the environmental consequences of the project are properly measured. In the mean time, the Government should discuss the matter with the experts and publish a white paper covering the relevant problems and their tentative solutions. Ease of traffic and broadening of roads are the necessities of the day but have they explored any alternative diversion (of traffic) of relatively low environmental cost? Government must let the common people know how much they are paying for what they are supposed to get.
SAVE TREES ON SOUTHERN AVENUE : Target Green Boulevard