Friday, March 2, 2012

NGOs join hands to launch Chipko Andolan

Praful Chander Nagpal

Fazilka, March 1
Half a dozen local NGOs have joined hands to launch a Chipko Andolan to protest against Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) for its alleged proposal to axe trees to carve out a colony in the wetland area near the residence of the Deputy Commissioner, Fazilka.

The NGOs have alleged that hundreds of trees have to be axed for constructing a colony in the fragile eco-friendly zone of the town near the extinct Badha lake. As a mark of protest, dozens of members hugged the trees to protect them from being felled.

"We want to make it a mass movement by involving the residents of village Badha as the NGOs have started motivating them against the move," said an activist, Lachhman Dost.

Notably, Badha village, where the colony is proposed to set up, is situated on the outskirts of Fazilka town. "The members shall also visit the nearby villages and towns to seek the participation of the residents there, maintained Dost.

Dozens of activists of different organizations, including the Graduate Welfare Association Fazilka (GWAF), Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sports Club, Fazilka 20-20 Cricket Association, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Youth Club and Guru Gobind Singh Youth Club, gathered at the site of the proposed colony and staged a protest by hugging the trees as part of the Chipko movement.

"Most of the nearly 400 eucalyptuses and other variety of trees at the site will have to be felled if the colony comes into existence, which we shall not allow," said Umesh Chander Kukkar, president of the GWAF.

It may be mentioned that local resident Navdeep Asija had filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the construction of a PUDA colony in the wetland area of Fazilka. "Despite the fact that the case is still pending in the court, PUDA has started the process of allotting 56 plots to the buyers on this land," alleged Asija. The next date of hearing is March 21.

"The cutting of tree would disturb the ecological fabric of the area," alleged another activist, Capt (retd) MS Bedi.

On the other hand, SDO, PUDA, Dharampal and Estate Officer N Grewal refused to speak on the issue maintaining that only their seniors are authorised to speak in this regard.

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