Trees on traffic islands uncared for

Kathmandu, May 19

As the sole route for the 18th SAARC Summit venue from the Tribhuvan International Airport, the government had planted around 3,000 trees on the traffic islands along the Maitighar-Tinkune road section as part of the city beautification drive just ahead of the regional summit held in November 2014.

A study conducted by the Department of Forest, however, shows that no one seemed to be taking care of the trees. As many as 65 trees have died, while 167 tree pots along the 3.2 km Maitighar-Tinkune stretch, are empty apart from tall trees dominating the ornamental species.

“We found that no one looked after the trees properly,” said Ashok Chaudhary, assistant research officer at the department, adding this was leading to overgrowth.

As per international practice, small and decorative species of plants are grown on the traffic islands. But the study team was surprised as tall trees such as 404 Swami (Ficus benjamina), 129 Champ (Michelia kisopa), 125 Raj Sallo (Cupressus torulosa), 116 Kyamuna (Cleistocalyx species), 17 Pipal (Ficus religiosa), among others, were planted on the traffic islands.

“We found that 60 per cent of the plants grown on the traffic islands are tall trees, which is ridiculous,” assistant research officer at department Bimal Acharya told The Himalayan Times. “This shows that trees were planted haphazardly in a hurry without consultation.”

The study team counted a total of 2,531 trees along the Maitighar-Tinkune stretch. It said at some places there was a gap of 34 metres between one tree and another.

“We saw that workers cleared the weeds once a week,” Chaudhary said, adding, “Apart from that no one bothered to look after the trees.”

Big and tall trees affect traffic visibility and could lead to road accidents.

The Kathmandu Valley Development Authority, which is responsible for planting trees in public places in the capital, claimed that Nepal Telecom and Agriculture Development Bank were responsible for looking after the plants. “We are only responsible for planting trees. It is not our responsibility to look after them,” said Bhai Kaji Tiwari, development commissioner at KVDA. He also claimed that the KVDA had consulted with Department of Plant Resources during the plantation.

But the department’s Deputy Director General Sanjiv Kumar Rai said they were never consulted. The Department of Forest also claimed that it was not consulted while planting the trees on the traffic islands along the stretch.

KVDA had planted the trees at the cost of Rs 114 million.