Sacred State tree Jammi Chettu among those hacked at UoH

HYDERABAD: The Jammi Chettu (prosopis cineraria), the state tree of Telangana and also considered sacred by Hindus, was among the scores of trees blindly bulldozed by the authorities at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) so as to make way for planting of saplings under Haritha Haram.

With earth movers still on the campus, students and environmentalists continued to voice concerns of more clearing work in the offing.

“We fear that the bulldozers are kept for felling more trees in the same senseless manner. There are 11 to 12 vehicles and many workers in the area. They have even destroyed the state tree. Earlier, there were at least 10 of these trees at the location, but now only one or two are left,” said Ravi Jillapalli, a research scholar who had shot off a complaint to vice chancellor Appa Rao Podile following the ‘menacing act’.

However, he said that despite the complaint, no action has been taken by the university authorities. “In an email reply to my complaint, the VC said he will hold a meeting once he is back in his office, but so far no action has been taken. None of the officials have even visited the site so far. Even today, the work is continuing without any official records,” Jillapalli added.

The ‘brainless’ idea of greening an already green campus has been described as embarrassing by city environmentalists. “Clearing a forest to plant saplings is not only unscientific but is also a deranged idea. A lot of shrubs and bushes, which were discarded as useless, were of high medicinal value. Moreover, the state tree, Jammi Chettu, is not only dear to most people but is fiercely protected by villagers. It is few in number and needs to be protected,” said K Purushotham Reddy, an environmentalist.

The Jammi Chettu takes nearly 50 years to grow fully. “Biodiversity builds up over a long period of time. It takes 50 to 70 years for a forest to develop and no matter how many saplings are planted, we will never reach back to the amount of biodiversity that was present at the site,” said environmentalist Captain J Rama Rao.

Meanwhile, the university authorities said they will soon look into the matter. “We are as much concerned as anybody else. We are very environment conscious. The matter will be looked into in a day or two,” said Vipin Srivastava, pro vice-chancellor.

Some officials though have admitted to mowing down 10 to 15 trees ‘unintentionally’ for preparing 100 acres for puja.
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Interestingly, the state government, in its website, has highlighted how Telangana requires the blessing of Jammi Chettu, which is part of legends as well. In the Mahabharata, the Pandavas defeated the Kauravas after worshipping the Jammi Chettu. This was also the tree where they hid their weapons when they were forced to go to exile.

Courtesy: Times of India