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Banyan Trees on National Highway 39 (NH-2)


Plant two trees in two proper places; make it grow and survive; before we cut down a tree grown in an improper location;                        to conserve the nature and save the mother earth.

By Sanasam Basantakumar Meitei

Trees not only adds scenic beauty to the surrounding environment but also gives healthy air to the living beings specially to the human beings. The banyan tree is known as the National tree of India. It is also considered a sacred plant, and hence worshipped by the Meitei/Meetei community in Manipur. The scientific name of this tree is “Ficus benghalensis” and it gives us a lot of medicinal benefits to us. During arthritis, the banyan tree can be used as it has anti-inflammatory and analgesic property, which helps to manage the pain and inflammation. The fruits of the banyan tree can be used to reduce stress. The bioactive compounds present in the banyan fruits also help in enhancing memory and lower the risk of seizures during panic attacks. Being a big tree it gives lot of shade during a hot sunny day and hence the place near the tree is a good place for a break.
Such a useful tree is a banyan tree but what shall we have to do if it were grown in a place where it may disturb to the different movements of the mankind. What will happen if it is going to be a cause for many deathly accidents? The question is whether we are to make it still grow in the same place or are we to fell down the tree or is there any other means? Felling down of the trees is against the law. The Indian Forest Act has laid down its own rules and regulations against felling of trees. According to this act, the penalty for felling a tree is a sum of Rs. 10,000 or 3 (three) months imprisonment. But for cutting down trees that are blocking our way, whose branches are spreading to our house or blocking hoardings, we need to take a clearance from the Forest department.
Are we to cut down those trees just because we have the clearance from the Forest Department? The answer is a big “NO.” Then what do we have to do as an environment conscious citizen? What precautions do we need to take up before felling a tree? Let’s remember there is a saying that “plant two trees before cutting down a tree”. So in order to cut down a tree lets plant two trees in a proper place so that we conserve the biome and also we make a population growth for the particular plant. Lets take an example of the decades –old scores of fully grown Banyan trees on the Hyderabad – Bijapur highway. These decades – old Banyan trees are on verge of being cut down for the proposed road widening of the National Highway. The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) apparently has completed widening of road from chevella towards Bijapur to a large distance where several such huge trees have already axed. But another way is to move the odd giant trees instead of just cutting them down. However the question is about the fund which will be needed to relocate the giant trees. Keeping a view in Manipur’s context few banyan trees are still there right is the middle of the National Highway -39 (NH – 2) which are located on the way from Manipur University Gate to the Standard Robarth Higher Secondary School. Some of the trees even look too old that they are almost dying. The biggest challenge right in front of us is whether to cut down these Banyan trees or whether to persevere these old guards of the environment.
Change is a natural process; living things will grow old and it will naturally die; it is the law of the nature. No one can escape from the law of the nature. Now our concern on the Banyan trees on the National Highway – 39 / NH – 2 is: shall we wait for these trees to die naturally and bear the hurdle these trees causes in our movement. When these trees die naturally; repair the highway once again. Another option is: Plant two more trees for each corresponding Banyan tree which are suppose to fell down. Let these newly planted trees grow well to survive and then cut down those Banyan trees which blocks our way.
Discussing on the advantages and disadvantages of the two options we can say that the first case may look conserving the nature but on the other hand because of these trees many accidents may occur which may cost our lives as these old giant trees are just standing right in the middle of our way. The big rotten roots may give crack on the road which again will lead to accidents of the automobiles. What we observed right here is one way the growing trees conserve the nature and the environment and gives fresh air needed for the human beings and is advantageous for us but at the other side there are chances which may cost our live. Let’s have a look in the second option of planting two trees correspondingly for each tree which are supposed to fell down. First of all we know that we are increasing the number of trees by one for each tree and which will be benefited double times in the future and then as we are planting in a proper place it is going to add the scenic beauty of the nature and will be more benefited to the people. The repairing of the Highway (after the Banyan tree die naturally) will not be required. Thus we are benefited in all dimensions. And why not we think for a decision which will make us better and more benefited in the long run. Life is so precious and let us all think for a win – win situation. The win-win situation right in front of us is: plant two trees in two proper places; make it grow and survive; before we cut down a tree grown in an improper location; to conserve the nature and save the mother earth.

(The writer is a social activist and an entrepreneur)

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