Truth be told, I am horrified. As I noted here, on my way to work, this is a road I pass every day, and it breaks my heart every day to see the exposed trunks and cut branches. But I have done nothing besides write this blog post. I know someone has written to the architect of the Colombo beautification project to complain. I know others, including Groundviews, have flagged this issue before, as have I, in writing, but it is clear as day that unless we're knocking on doors and pulling strings, the proud old trees that have shaded Colombo for generations will one by one fall victim to the chainsaw; to money, and school traffic, and who ever is getting a large cut of this contract.
So this is a plea, if you will, and an impassioned one at that. What do we do? Who do we talk to? Who knows someone that can stop this, or at least give us some information as to the why and what for of this pointless destruction. The environment and the vulnerable are easy scapegoats for "development", because they do not have a voice; not one that many people listen to anyway. And if a jogging path or easy access to parking is more important to you than the magnificence of a centuries-old tree, with the hundreds of organisms it shelters and protects, then perhaps you are one of those who think that "trees are renewable and not to be deified" (as seen on twitter). But if you are not, then lets start writing about this, and talking about it, and asking the questions that need to be asked.
Update- July 10th
A stroll down Wijerama now reveals that all the trees are gone, save one poor, hacked soul. If you feel like weeping over the exposed roots and tree trunks laid bare on the pavement, you better hurry up, because the paving will begin at any moment, as is evidenced by the cement blocks stacked ready.
Subsequent to this blog post, my colleagues and I have made phone calls and spoken to the CMC workers cutting the trees. The reason for cutting the trees is to widen the road, and apparently they did attempt to build the road around the trees, but then
couldn't be bothered, decided the trees weren't important, discovered it wasn't feasible. We have also heard conflicting stories - that the orders came from the UDA, and, Gotabhaya Rajapakse had nothing to do with this. Other stories have drifted our way about the rather valuable wood being sold off and large contracts issued for paving.
All we can really say at this point is that the trees are gone. No matter what we do next, it's too late. But that's the beauty of not having a Right to Information Act. We have no information until the infraction takes place, and no way to stop it. It's heartening to note that I have not seen the issue covered in a single local newspaper, though the Sunday Times did have information on Tom Cruise's divorce settlement. Thanks, investigative reporters.
|last man standing|
Related news articles were carried in Ceylon Today and the Sunday Leader.
Update- Oct 19, 2012
Beautiful. Who needs trees anyway? The irony is that though a lovely pavement has been built, it's so damn sunny that everyone crosses the road to walk in the shade.