Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, January 12

Trees near the Singha Durbar, the official hub, are facing the chop. All because, the government is carrying on with its policy of axing roadside trees that have shallow roots. Trees with deep roots will eventually replace the earlier ones. The elimination of the old trees has been promted by securtuy reasons. Often, the shallow-rooted trees topple over in windstorms in the Valley, killing people, injuring others and damaging property.

The flip side of the drive is, Kathmandu is steadily losing its green cover. Last year, trees at Keshar Mahal were cut down to widen the road. Similarly, scores of trees were axed at Chabahil and also along the Araniko Highway, from Kathamndu to Bhaktapur, four months ago. Bhushan Tuladhar, an environment expert, concurred that the old trees along the ropads in the Valley do pose a security threat to human life and public property. He added that

the problem could be addressed by lopping off branches instead of felling the tree altogether.

"The government is cutting down trees but it has not cared to plant new ones in their place." Tuladhar advocated planting of at least five deep-rooting species of trees in the place of one felled.

Unaware of environmental consequences, vendors near Singha Durbar entrance, rejoiced at the move to cut down the trees. Bimla Sapkota, one among the dozens of shopkeepers on way to Singha Durbar entrance, where a row of trees are now being cleared out, said she was happy.

"Earlier, security forces at Singhadurbar entrance used to help me shift my belongings elsewhere whenever the wind began blowing," she said.

To prevent loss of lives and damage to property, Kathmandu Valley Town Development Committee and Forest Department have been given the joint authority to deal with trees along the roads as no single body was prepared to accept the responsibility.

A KVTDC official, Rishikesh Niroula, said that private parties have been asked to send proposals for clearing the trees posing potential danger to public life and property and for replacing them with appropriate species of medium-sized trees. Niroula added that a KVTDC study has recommended replacing tall trees with medium-sized evergreens of appropriate species along Ring Road and all over the Valley.

Experts said, Masala and Lahare Pipal trees along the roads have shallow roots. They are prone to toppling over in windstorms. Several such trees have killed many people and damaged property.