City Under Seige (of rampant construction)


 Update for week ended 25 February 2011

The light commercial vehicles (LCVs) arrived – rickety, brown and snub nosed. The labourers aboard them jumped out quickly from the sides and lowered the gate at the rear, that was held in place with a makeshift nylon-wire rope. It clanged down with a loud metallic bang and the action also blew up dust from the roadside. The corrugated tin sheets were off loaded, followed by the weathered bamboo sticks. The hoes, cutlasses and pickaxes tumbled onto the tarmac and half the road was cordoned off for all this paraphernalia. The office goers looked distressed as the traffic snarls worsened as autorickshaws squeezed through, scraping the bumpers of the cars, while red buses honked on their rubber horns sounding like a gaggle of geese flying south during winter. The diesel, petrol and gas fumes mingled together with the dust to give pedestrians a sneezing fit. The city fathers were not the best planners and so everyone cribbed, but no-one did anything, they simply bore through the traffic and passed by giving cursed looks at the workers. The workers in turn got started with their work as their supervisors shouted out orders and the bamboos were erected along the side of the road. The tinsheets were then nailed onto the bamboo to form a crude wall along the road side. The men rested in the mid morning sun, but were lucky to have leafy, shady trees to protect against the getting-harsh spring sun. Then, the axes and hoes were put to work to chop off branches and tree trunks and quickly dug out the roots as well. By noon, the trees lay flat on the road side, with trimmed branches along side them. The tree stumps, a few left behind, were a sight for sore eyes. The digging done, the men started placing the probes and pipes in, as the orange overall wearing brigade descended and took over the work. These men in yellow helmets had instruments that they gazed into and lathe like machines that they used to calibrate and through little dials and instruments they recorded information and continued working till evening. Of course, the passing traffic had some activists from the “green brigade” who turned livid with what they saw – the hacked trees, no concern for general life around, and what looked like a “no permission” style operation. They contacted the local municipal office and with the influential industrialist’s help, summoned their group to stop this vandalizing. The cops swung into action stopping the vandals’ actions and the municipal officer armed with a magistrate order ordered them to stop and rectify the situation. Now a hacked 50 year old rain tree cannot be rejoined to its trunk and branches, but the next best can be done. The excavator team was ordered to replant saplings and courted arrest if they did not complete it before day-end. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the “Greens” did manage to stop further work and actually force the replanting of saplings.

The green blushes of spring leaves that burst out last week along the tree lined D Street were threatened this week. The D Boyz stood confused as the truck pulled onto their street and some Boyz from Yonder (who call themselves FII Boyz) started digging up the edge of the street where the trees stood. They hacked at the branches, the trunks and roots and then started digging into the ground. By Thursday, they had dug so deep that the roots were not only exposed, but in most places completed up-“routed” (“they may have dug about 545 feet that day”, speculated the D Boyz, as the SENSEX slid 545 points). But thanks to some quick thinking and vigilant Boyz among the D Street denizens who ordered the FII Boyz to fix whatever they could – starting with planting some green saplings, so finally on Friday, small 68 cm tall plant guards were put up, to protect the vulnerable plants. (is that why the SENSEX propped up 68 points on Friday). A week whereby 3% of the tree cover was lost as the SENSEX lost as much to end at 17700. The D Boyz have sent feelers to their Finance Controller (FM) to ensure that enforcements are made to protect this Street from vandals going forward.

The Green Brigade was actually surprised and pleasantly at that, that their agitation worked this time around. They have not been lucky very often, but the various scented flower revolutions that have been sweeping across the north of the Sahara seemed to have some contagion effect on this city a thousand miles south of the Thar!

So, are you looking forward to the Budget announcement on Monday? Either ways, it is still a good time to go and shop for that book you were looking for, or that pottery that you so admired, or even a carved wooden box with brass inlay work. Be impulsive, go by what your heart feels like. Stop by that dry fruits stall and maybe tuck into some apricots and figs!

Have a nice weekend… Cheers.

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