Residents up in arms against landscaping in Kozhikode

Work around an old peepal tree at East Hill Junction in the city was done in an unscientific manner, could cause accidents, they say

Local residents have raised objections against what they called a Bodhi Tree project at East Hill Junction, saying that landscaping activities around an old peepal tree is done in an unscientific manner that could result in accidents in future.

While they appreciate the beautification drive at the junction on the mini bypass stretch from West Hill Chungam to Karaparamba, residents feel that the construction of an Arayal Thara around a peepal tree is ill-conceived. “The tree is fully engulfed by ‘leech plants’ giving a false impression to everyone that it is more of a ‘leech tree’ than a Bodhi Tree. Left unattended, parasites breeding on the tree will kill the host in a not-too-distant future for sure,” Ashok Veetil, joint secretary, Navarang Residents Association, said.

What surprises the neighbourhood residents is that none in the project team, from contractors to supervisors to officials, seem to have ever noticed the “health” of the tree, which they propose to preserve and fortify by this project.

Mr. Veetil said the modification involved seating arrangements for the public at the junction where road accidents are common. Speeding vehicles, sharp bent at the junction, and the presence of Kendriya Vidyalaya and Regal Theatre make East Hill Junction an unsafe spot, he pointed out.

“We were wondering whether it would be a prudent idea to turn this corner into a recreational joint for the public. Though we are not raising any objection to the seating plan, we would request you to verify whether these critical factors have been realistically taken into consideration in its design,” Mr. Veetil said in a petition addressed to District Collector N. Tej Lohit Reddy.

Several residents said another old peepal tree at the spot had been uprooted a few years ago. Besides, a huge branch of the existing tree had fallen earlier. Its roots also appeared to be damaged, they said.

Meanwhile, North Kozhikode MLA and former Mayor Thottathil Raveendran said the beautification of East Hill Junction was part of the Kozhikode City Road Improvement Project. It was envisaged by the Kerala Road Fund Board during the tenure of former legislator A. Pradeepkumar, he said.

“The junctions at West Hill Chungam, East Hill, and Karaparamba have a fresh look. The drainage system will prevent flooding on the road. However, the issue of beautification of the peepal tree will be examined,” Mr. Raveendran said.

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