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Saturday, August 28, 2010 05:54:53 PM, Imran Khan, IANS

Thousands of trees in Patna zoo face the axe for airport safety

Nature lovers are concerned over the Bihar government’s plans to cut or prune nearly 4,000 trees in the Patna zoo for airport safety, as they say it is the only green cover for the city’s two million people.  »

Patna: Hundreds of students associated with Taru Mitra (Friends of Trees) in Bihar Saturday began a campaign against the government's plan to cut nearly 4,000 trees in the Patna zoo for airport safety.

Taru Mitra, a student movement to protect and promote a healthy environment on earth, has also planned a march Saturday to protest the move to cut trees in the zoo, the only green cover for the city's two million people.

"We will also submit a memorandum to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, seeking protection of the trees," Father Robert Athickal, coordinator of Taru Mitra, told IANS.

Rajesh Kumar, a Taru Mitra official, said: "Students will also hold a demonstration inside the zoo to protest the cutting of trees."

The zoo is formally known as the Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park and houses a variety of trees such as semal, bamboo, amaltas, banyan, kusum, arjun and putranjiva.

According to a zoo official, the state government is under tremendous pressure to cut trees to remove obstruction in the approach path of the aircraft by Aug 31, the deadline given by the ministry of civil aviation.

The state government had to initiate moves to cut or prune trees after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation threatened to declare the airport unsuitable for big aircraft operations from Sep 1 if obstacles to the approach funnel were not cleared.

"The state government plans to get a part of the zoo denotified so as to cut or prune over 3,700-odd trees in a triangular area of 17 acres. It has written to the environment and forests ministry in this regard," an official in the chief minister's office said.

"Pruning and cutting of trees are essential for safe landing of aircraft at the Patna airport. The civil aviation ministry has given the state government an ultimatum till Aug 31 to cut the identified trees that obstruct the approach funnel of the Patna airport," he added.

Taru Mitra students said that more than 2,000 trees were cut or uprooted in Patna in the name of widening of roads in the last four years. It has increased pollution and temperature in crowded areas of Patna.

A two-member Airports Authority of India (AAI) team from Delhi is presently in Patna and it has demarcated three points in the zoo that are to be denotified.

Patel Chowk is the first point while the second point lies along the road adjacent to the airport. The third point is between the zoo's Gate No. 2 and Raj Bhavan.

At present the zoo is spread across an area of 34 acres and is home to over 10,000 trees.

Imran Khan can be contacted at




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