This is such a Delhi story. MCD workers came in this morning to trim branches from the trees in the C-Block park, Jangpura. They were also supposed to cut down part of a gulmohar whose top branches had withered, and were hanging dangerously over the road.

We were out when they came in; by the time we returned, the old, green, squirrel-and-bird friendly park at the back didn’t exist. Given a permit to chop down one tree and no supervision, the MCD foreman had convinced residents that all of the trees should be drastically trimmed and had argued that grass didn’t grow in their shade. (Grass grows in the park in front, which has even more trees than the park at the back, but this wasn’t about logic.) Some residents went along with this, hoping that it would dissuade the monkeys who visit often–but not realising that the monkeys are likely to stay in this territory and migrate to roofs and balconies instead.

We managed to prevent the MCD foreman from taking the axe to the last two or three, but this is what the park looks like now. Very sad when this story’s repeated all across Delhi, though we did get the MCD to promise that no more trees would go like this–they’ve said they’ll stick to trimming branches. As I left the park, the squirrels chittered anxiously at me, running up and down their tree, looking for the branches and the birds that weren’t there any more; the mynahs had left and the Babblers were hiding in the foliage. They’ll probably have to migrate elsewhere.

If you live in Delhi, and the MCD’s doing the annual trimming-and-pruning, just make sure that they don’t get axe-happy. In one morning, that park’s gone from being a quiet green oasis to being a barren, half-denuded space.

 

This was most of the tree that provided shade to the presswaali and her sisters.
This was most of the tree that provided shade to the presswaali and her sisters.
The park, with foliage from the trees (and some bird's nests) carpeting the ground.
The park, with foliage from the trees (and some bird’s nests) carpeting the ground.
Branches, stripped for firewood.
Branches, stripped for firewood.
The old tree is almost unrecognisable..
The old tree is almost unrecognisable..
...though this is a different species, that tree had foliage as thick as this.
…though this is a different species, that tree had foliage as thick as this.
Foliage and branches on the other side...
Foliage and branches on the other side…
...and a last view of the park. It still looks green, because the chopped branches haven't been removed yet.
…and a last view of the park. It still looks green, because the chopped branches haven’t been removed yet.