In a display of insensitivity to the value of medicinal trees on a hospital premises, 15 fully-grown trees including several eucalyptus trees were cut down to mere stumps in a bid to trim branches that were allegedly posing a danger to the walls of the State government-run Aundh General Hospital on Friday. Besides other benefits, eucalyptus ward off mosquitos.
|The hospital administration had applied for permission to trim the branches of only two trees that had grown too close to the hospital buildings. The trees they hacked away included banyans, pines, acacia and peepul
The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation’s (PCMC) garden department said the hospital administration had applied for permission to trim the branches of only two trees that had grown close to the hospital building.
To cut trees down, permission from the Bombay High Court and the municipal tree authority is mandatory. The felling is carried out only after an expert committee submits its report to the HC. Hospital authorities could not produce either of the two.
Old hands at the hospital said many of the trees whose limbs were hacked off, including banyans, pines, acacia and peepal, were planted some 20 years ago to create cool, shadowed spots for recuperating patients or their visiting relatives.
The saplings had been tended to by Employees’ State Insurance Scheme (ESIS) hospital employees who used saline bottles to rig up a drip-irrigation system for the trees.
The hospital administration, though, denied that so many trees had been severely damaged, while the PCMC garden department said permission had been given to trim only the dangerous branches of two trees.
Mirror found that some of the trees hacked down are located over 30 metres from the building. It was the second such incident in two years when trees were cut down en masse on the hospital premises.
The ‘trimming’ drive began on Friday evening as over a dozen employees converged with chain-saws. The work carried on till Saturday afternoon, leaving three to four tempos filled with chopped wood from the trees.
When Mirror visited the spot, a garden was being developed on the premises. Several trees including three eucalytus were found hacked to the base. The banyan trees, pines and acacia were also cut down to the base, right in front of the main entrance, while branches lay everywhere.
An employee who declined to be named, said, “Every year, in the name of trimming, many trees are getting cut down. The contractor has been taking benefit of the staff’’s negligence. Eucalyptus wood fetches a handsome price in the market. Other trees are used to make furniture and matchsticks.”
Sidram Raichurkar, administrative ffficer with the hospital, said, “We started the trimming drive after we received a letter from the District Civil Surgeon, in which we were asked to trim the branches of a couple of dangerous trees.
There was nothing mentioned about cutting the trees down to the trunk. If it has happened, then it is in violation of the letter’s instructions.” District Civil Surgeon Dr Vinayak More denied any mass felling of trees on the hospital premises.
“Only the branches of couple of trees, including an acacia and a eucalyptus, were to be cut as they were posing a danger to the building. If mass cutting of trees has happened, then it is a matter to be inquired into. I will look into it.”
P M Gaikwad, PCMC’s garden superintendent (Tree), said, “We received a letter from the hospital administration asking permission to trim the dangerous trees. At the same time, PCMC has also issued a circular to remove such trees that create hurdle to government buildings or establishments.
Therefore, after paying a visit on July 2, I gave permission for only the dangerous trees to be cut. If the incident of mass cutting has happened then it is wrong. I will verify the fact after an inquiry. Those concerned will be charged in case their fault is established.”
Uses of Eucalyptus
The eucalyptus has many uses which makes it economically important, and a cash crop . They may be used as decoration, for timber, firewood and pulpwood. It is also used in a number of industries, from fence posts and charcoal to cellulose extraction for biofuels.
In ayurveda, it is useful as a herbal medicine for cold, cough and other diseases. The price of a fully-grown tree is around Rs 10,000 for 40 kg
► Only the branches of couple of trees, including an acacia and a eucalyptus, were to be cut as they were posing a danger to the building
- Dr Vinayak More , Districy Civil Surgeon