Today, Bihar is one of the fastest growing states in the country. The state has managed to record an annual growth rate of 14.48 percent in 2012-13. The real estate sector has played a pivotal role in this achievement. And Patna witnessed an unbelievable surge in real estate investment. A wily Nitish Kumar underscores the trend and hence this poster boy of development begins pouring money down the drain without any care for the relevance of such projects.
Some of these projects are irrational and posing great challenges to the existing green cover of the city. In this series, a huge convention center with a capacity of 5,000 people is being constructed near the Gandhi Maidan, at the cost of a mammoth 274.2 crores.
The college students, alumni and teachers together oppose the proposed construction as it would lead to the closure of the main entrance of the college. Some of the town planners who are not part of this project have strong reservation over the selection of land for the purpose given the dense traffic in the area.
But it is not the first time the capital city has witnessed such apathy and negligence towards the green cover. The big trees by the side of the roads are drying up rapidly in Patna. The perpetual death of big trees is sure to raise the city thermal level and raise environmental imbalance. Many old trees across the city are struggling to survive as their roots are being choked by concrete. At posh Boring Road midriff hundreds of trees are choked with concrete and cement tiles as part of the Patna beautification drive. Concrete pavements put strain on trees by stopping groundwater recharge leading to the gradual death of the trees and drying up of underground aquifers.
It is none other than Gopal Singh, the Divisional Forest Officer of Patna range, who states that they are only responsible for planting the sapling but once the plants reach their adolescence, their role ends.
The most astonishing fact is that there is no agency empowered to take action if someone is cutting down the tree in a public place. It is shocking that forest rules come into force only when a tree is transported after cutting it down. Forest department is entrusted with planting the saplings, watering the sapling but has nothing do if someone is cutting it down. Doesn't it seem a joke? It’s a serious joke indeed. The blame game for the same is being played among the Ministry of Urban Development, PWD, PRDA, PMC, BUDCO and the forest department. The multitude of agencies employed for the development of the city, has no clear demarcation line about their roles and rights in order to maintain and grow the green cover.
Actually greenery has been a nugacious sector both for the city dwellers and the authorities as well. Nailing at the trunk of the tree is a common scene in Patna that causes cancer to trees and plants. Wires, cords are usually tied to trees by illegal vendors strewn everywhere in Patna harms to the trees as they work like a tourniquet for plants. Urinating and dumping garbage in the root/trunk of the tree is a quite a common sight in Patna.
But to take on these challenges why the state government did not try to install an empowered agency like the Delhi Tree Authority? To take care of almost every issue from sapling to gabian caging, from watering to daily monitoring and everything else, a single agency need to be made responsible. It may be Patna Tree Authority or so.
In 2009, the Delhi High Court issued clear guidelines for a 'breathing space' of 6 ft. to be left open around a tree. This could be a lesson to be learnt for cities like Patna if we are really interested to improve the scenario.