Trees cut all over Bihar for bonfires on Holi eve

March 21st, 2008 - 2:43 pm ICT by admin  

Patna, March 21 (IANS) Green trees are being chopped and pruned in Bihar to collect firewood for bonfires on Holi eve. Bonfires will be lit to burn the demon Holika Friday night on the eve of the festival of colours Holi Saturday.

Hundreds of trees have been badly damaged. Trees have either been pruned or cut down by people, particularly youth, from across the state including cities like Patna, Gaya, Muzaffarpur.

“The trees can neither raise their voice nor seek justice after they are pruned or cut down in name of burning Holika,” green activist Guddu Baba said here.

In a mockery of forest laws, people have been chopping off branches and felling trees with the full knowledge of forest officials, local administration and police but no action has been taken.

“It is usual every year ahead of Holi. The enforcing officials ignore it despite the open violation of forest laws,” said Guddu Baba, who has been campaigning to reduce pollution in the Ganga.

“There is virtually a race among people to collect wood for bonfires. People have no concern for trees and its impact. They want to fulfil rituals at the cost of harming the environment,” said Arun Singh, a nature lover.

In Patna alone there are over 500 places where bonfires will be lit to mark the festival. “We watched people in the city and its outskirts felling trees indiscriminately in the name of Holi even as forest officials looked the other way,” said Singh.

According to Hindu mythology, bonfires are lit on the eve of Holi to signify the destruction of evil.

Robert Athickal, who runs Tarumitra, a Patna-based organisation to protect and promote a healthy environment, said that there was a need to create awareness among people not to target trees to collect wood for bonfires.

“It is unfortunate that the government officials hardly initiate any move to stop people from pruning or cutting trees for bonfires,” said Athickal.

“We must together stand to save trees when global warming is a reality,” he told IANS. Tarumitra volunteers have been appealing to people to burn garbage instead of trees for a better Holi.

Till the 1970s, garbage was collected for the bonfires. “We never pruned trees or cut them. Now the situation is different. People seem to enjoy cutting tress for the bonfire,” a group of senior citizens recalled.

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