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Lucknow Citizens Protest Against UP Govt Proposal to Fell 64,000 Trees for Expo

Despite Lucknow being one of the ten most polluted cities in India, the government’s anti-environment decision has forced citizens to come out on the streets.
Lucknow Citizens Protest Against UP Govt

Protesting against the Yogi Adityanath led Uttar Pradesh government’s proposal to cut 64,000 trees for a Defence Expo in state capital Lucknow, over a hundred people from various organisations gathered in the city over the weekend. Along with the protesting people on the ground, an online campaign with hashtags like #SaveLucknow #LucknowTree #SaveTreesSaveLucknow has also become popular, leading more people to join the protest in the last two days. Meanwhile, environmental activists have threatened the government of starting a massive movement in the city, if the proposal is not rolled back.

Despite Lucknow being among the ten most polluted cities in the country according to reports, the state government’s proposal to cut down 63,799 trees along the Gomti river for the Defence Expo, scheduled to be held from February 5-8, 2020, has raised several questions. The Expo will showcase the latest arms and weapons available with the defence forces.

The Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) in a letter, has asked the Lucknow Nagar Nigam to cut trees from Hanuman Setu to the Nishatganj bridge since various programmes in the Defence Expo will be held here. The land, after clearing the trees, will be handed over to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) which will be hosting the event.

Chandra Bhushan Tiwari, an environment activist based in Lucknow, who first raised the issue, told NewsClick, "This government won't understand how difficult it is to plant a tree and make sure it is protected till it is fully grown. Now, there is talk of cutting down 64,000 trees. It is an absolute sacrilege of our ecosystem. It is high time for people of Lucknow to decide which is more important - 64,000 trees or a defence expo."

Tiwari further said that a series of protests will be organised for the whole week if government does not take this decision back. "Our fight to save Lucknow will continue until the decision is rolled back like done by the government of Maharashtra," he said.

Commenting over this, Srijan Yogi Adiyog, a member of Insani Birdari based in Gomti Nagar, told NewsClick, "The air in Lucknow is as toxic if not more than in Delhi. The greenery on the banks of Gomti river is the only relief that we have in such a polluted atmosphere. But to cut down not one or two, but 64,000 trees in the name of a defence expo is not acceptable at all, especially when the effects of climate change are so heavily upon us. Yogi government has to withdraw the decision other whole Lucknow will come out to the streets against this move.”

Another activist Rahul Mishra said, "Over 2,600 trees were cut for a metro car shed in Aarey, Mumbai, but the government has been changed there now. In Lucknow, CM Yogi has ordered to cut down 64,000 trees for a Defence Expo, this is nothing but an indication that even this BJP government may be on the way out. Holistic development without destruction should be kept in mind always."

Meanwhile, Municipal commissioner Indramani Tripathi told local media that the trees which are on the bank of Gomti River will be not cut down but only over two hundred trees will be shifted for a period of time and after the Defence Expo is over, the trees will be replanted.

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