The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has begun demolishing brick structures at the base of trees in the city, after the Calcutta High Court, acting on a petition by the NGO, PUBLIC, claiming these structures are harming the growth of trees, directed the civic body to demolish them.

The KMC has today begun demolishing the brick structures that had been constructed at the base of trees at several points in the city. These structures also sported a brand logo of a private hosiery company. Today, a team of civic body workers were observed demolishing the structures concerned, in Russell Street and Middleton Row crossing, in Borough VII of the KMC. However, apart from Middleton Street and Russell Street, where the demolition has begun, such structures exist in several places in Kolkata, particularly in major roads all over Central and South Kolkata including Theatre Road, Loudon Street, Ashutosh Mukherjee Road, Ballygunge Circular Road, Jawaharlal Nehru Road etc.

Debashish Chakraborty, director general (DG) parks and squares department of KMC, told The Statesman, “The work has begun from today. We will demolish all such structures in the city. Two teams of workers, for both North and South, have been deployed for the demolition work. We will gradually increase the team of workers in boroughs to carry out the work at a faster pace.”

It may be mentioned that Pradeep Kakkar, one of the founder members of People United for Better Living in Calcutta (PUBLIC), had petitioned the Calcutta High Court, stating that “these illegal structures are causing damage to the trees and have been constructed by a private company for advertising purposes.”

The petition further claimed that “these constructions result in choking of trees, preventing them from benefitting from rain and spreading its roots to access nutrition and other natural elements from the soil.”

The respondents to the petition were KMC; Municpal Commissioner, KMC; DG parks and gardens, department of KMC; state of West Bengal through its secretary, department of environment; and the private hosiery company, Rupa and Company Limited.

The director general (DG), parks and gardens department of KMC, in his reply to a letter sent to him by the petitioners, asking whether the structures were built with permission of the KMC, had clarified that “KMC neither made those constructions nor gave any permission to build the structures.”

In an affidavit submitted by the KMC, the deputy chief engineer, attached with the KMC parks and squares department, had stated “the structures that have been constructed around the tree base in violation of the Urban Greening Guidelines 2014, shall have to be removed.”