37-Year-Old Crusades Against Illegal Felling
Sumi Sukanya | TN
Sept. 20, 2009
Gurgaon: A gruelling schedule at work- place, long hours of commute and frequent snubs don’t deter Vivek Kamboj from doing what he loves the most-saving Gurgaon’s green cover. The 37-year-old owner of a finance firm in Outer Delhi brings about a breath of fresh air in the otherwise concrete jungle of the Millennium City.
“In love with nature”, Kamboj carries out plantation drives, stages protest against those who fell trees illegally and runs awareness cam- paigns to keep the city green. After founding his NGO ‘Haryali in 2005, he has not looked back. Without any government assistance-mone- tarily or administratively, the man- on-mission has planted 31,000 trees across the city in the past two years, saying that this is the only way to negate the effects of rapid urban- ization and industrialisation.
Thanks to his efforts, forest department officials have actually started serving no- tices to residents who have cut trees in and around their houses without taking per- mission from the department. Forest de- partment sources told Times City that the practice is rampant in colonies such as DLF City, Sushant Lok, South City and other HUDA sectors. According to forest depart- ment officials, Section 4 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act 1900 bars people from cut- ting trees even in private land without the permission of the Haryana Forest Depart- ment. Violators could be prosecuted under section 33 of Indian Forest Act and be tried in the Environment Court, Faridabad.
“I was aghast over the widespread felling of trees in posh colonies. Residents were doing so because they thought that their beautifully built houses were shadowed by trees and this in turn diminished the market value of the houses. I decided to move the forest department and got penal ac- tion initiated against all those,” Kamboj said.
He claimed thousands of Gur- five-star hotels, especially in posh colonies, have axed a large number of green and grown-up trees planted just outside their houses or establishments. But the journey has been far from smooth CITY OF gaon residents and owners of com- ANGELS mercial establishments, including for the environment enthusiast. “At times I have dared to fight the might and wealth of influential people. When I used to request them not to cut trees, they would threaten me with dire consequences. But somehow I managed to convince them all,” said Kam- Sanjay Chauhan boj with a smile.
If the man has earned enemies, there are admirers too. “It is nice to see young people like Kamboj working selflessly to save nature. I have seen him get- ting emotional whenever a single tree is cut. But with time he is maturing and has emerged as a green crusader, persuading people to conserve environment,” said Devender Rao, for- est range officer, Gurgaon.
The man has been attached to trees since his teenage days. “As a teenager, I cut a tree but could not sleep that night. I felt so guilty. I changed completely after that and took it as a duty to save every tree that is around me,” Kamboj said.