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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Banyan tree hacked for Rs 50!

HYDERABAD: What is the 'cost' of a 200-year-old banyan tree? Rs 50! (about 1.5 USD)

Continuing the unceasing hacking down of large trees in the city in the name of development, an ancient banyan tree located near the entrance of the historic Piagah Palace was chopped down on Monday.

The US Consulate, which has been handed over the Palace, had earlier cut down nearly 40 trees on the premises for 'security reasons'.

The state government had handed over Paigah Palace, where Hyderabad Urban Development Authority (Huda) had its headquarters, seven months ago to the US authorities for setting up a temporary consulate.

The US authorities approached Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) for permission to cut down the banyan tree and 32 Ashoka trees located along the approach road to Paigah Palace.

The GHMC's engineering officials sent a letter to the forest department seeking permission to cut down the trees. "The forest department gave the permission and asked us to pay Rs 50 per tree that would be cut down. As per their instructions, the GHMC paid the amount," GHMC horticulture officer G Raj Kumar told 'TOI.'

"The US Consulate authorities had proposed to widen the road by five feet. We had to take the forest department's permission as it had planted these 32 trees covering the entire stretch from Paigah Palace to the main road," he said.On Sunday, a contractor engaged by the GHMC hacked the banyan tree and other trees as part of the road-widening exercise.

Several petty vendors, who used to do brisk business under the shade of the 200-year-old tree, were annoyed at the officials.

A resident of Begumpet and an Internet cable operator S Anand couldn't hide his tears as he narrated his childhood memories associated with the tree. "I played marbles with my friends under this banyan tree. It is sad that the 200 year-old tree is no more," he said.

Read it here

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