It used to be heartening when the former President Kalam pleaded regularly to take to mass planting of trees all over the country. Our scriptures say that planting trees are surest way to get rid of one’s sins and reach heaven. It was exciting news to find that the UPA government is set to launch the ‘Green India project, that aims to afforest more than 6 million hectares – around 2% of the country’s total area – with the help of people in the villages.’ In Noida one can see ‘Green Noida, Clean Noida’ slogan written all over the township.
With all this background, it was shocking experience to have received a shocking letter ref: Noida/PE (M) III/2007- 1286 dated 29.08.2007 from the office of project engineer, Noida Authority (NA) on September 1. (All residents of houses in sector 41 that face the road between sector 41 and sector 39 received almost similar letter or with one with little variation through speed post.) The letter says we have made encroachment by planting saplings in front of our houses. The NA attached a nice photograph of the respective houses too. The letter ordered to remove the encroachment in three days. If we didn’t remove, the authority would remove it and charge the cost.
We came to live in this house in sector 41 of Noida in June 1998. There was hardly any house in our row. The land in front up to the road was lying barren. We had a facing of a huge ground in Sector 39 that was the public defecating ground of all construction workers in this part of Noida. (It remained so till the Noida Authority built a huge prison like boundary wall.) With wind, the plastics and other rubbish used to come up to our houses, and with the foul smell, it was difficult to keep the main door open or to sit outside. And the vehicles on the road further added to the dust generation. We kept on complaining and suggesting for creating fencing and planting trees to conceal the horrendous scene every morning. It was much later that with the help of the horticulture department of the authority, I got planted trees all along the road on the side of Sector 41 A and B blocks. Later on the Noida Authority fenced the side with barbed wire and planted Bougainvillea. However, it didn’t do the same on the side of sector 39.
As we got some inspiration from the mission ‘Green and Clean Noida’, we planted some trees and shrubs too, as clear from the photographs. The idea was to see some greenery when we sit in our balcony and restrict the dirt from the roadside. We don’t consider planting of trees was and is a crime and encroachment by any definition rather it is a national necessity. We have certainly not encroached on Noida Authority land by this act of ours. We don’t claim any right on the trees that we have planted.
In the meantime, some years ago the road was widened. We never objected to that even though we lost some trees in the process and Yamuna, my wife who does take care of the plants, felt really bad about it.
We wonder why should the project engineer issue a letter such as one mentioned above. Why should the Noida authority not encourage the residents to get trees planted wherever it is possible without causing any problem to the community at large instead of threatening those who have done that?
And now a new threat has come. We hear that a wall will soon come up passing through the middle of the greenery that we have created. We don’t know if we will be able to save our trees. Unfortunately, NA and its officers don’t bother to inform the residents of its plan in the manner they sent encroachment notice. And a rumour says, someone who envies the location advantage of our residences that has an open space in front, is behind the erection of wall.
We wish someone saved our greenery and the trees.
PS: Some young residents from Block B approached me today morning. We, almost 20 men and women, went to CEO, Noida Authority and requested him to stop raising the wall. Even though he was too busy, he listened and assured to do something. We wish he could order the suspension of construction of wall that will be second prison wall within 40 ft in front of our houses.