The green belt in Sector 91 in Noida has been brought down to make way for a bio-diversity park. Over 3,000 trees have been felled for the 50 crore project that is being carried out by the Noida Authority Department.
The felling of trees has brought the citizens to the streets. Over the past two weeks they have taken to the streets to organise and protest this decision of the Noida authorities that will force them to bid goodbye to the only forest that is left in the area.
The Noida Authority plans to develop a Biodiversity park on a parcel of land measuring about 75 acres in Sector 91, Noida. The Authority has mandated it to be developed as "Noida Biodiversity Park" as per the Master Plan. An amphitheater, golf track carts and a plaza has also been planned as part of its Noida Master plan of 2031.
The Eucalyptus plantation existing at the site which was done 28-30 years back is near the end of its life span and many of the trees have fallen off on their own, leaving large barren patches. Over 80 species of native and naturalised tree species and over 120 species of shrubs, herbs and other plants are proposed to replace them.
While the protests forced the authorities to take up a plantation drive, citizens allege that due procedures were not followed in the process. Citizens complained that the NGT guidelines against excessive concretization of a forested area and the requirement to plant 10 saplings for every tree were not followed.
"We were here for a peaceful protest.. but we were provoked. We were asked to turn back and go away and all this by Noida authorities. This is an authority that is acting in an indisciplined manner and in numbers." said Nikhat Tyagi, a resident.
Noida citizens have been coming with innovative ways to bring attention to the issue. On Raksha Bandhan, the city residents were seen tying rakhis and hugging trees to protest the felling of trees.
Felling of trees had been a deeply disturbing issue for the people of neighbouring Delhi too. Thousands have been holding protests for weeks in posh South Delhi to put an end to the felling of 17,000 trees for a Central plan to build houses for government officers and a commercial complex. Few agreed with the Centre's plan to plant a larger number of saplings, pointing out that they cannot be a substitute for full-grown trees.