Paint trees with synthetic colours … that's their idea of beautification

Many trees in Gomti Nagar area of Lucknow were painted with colours for beautification. However, as soon as the forest department came to know about this, it directed the officers to stop the work

Ranvijay SinghRanvijay Singh   18 Oct 2019 8:02 AM GMT

Paint trees with synthetic colours … thats their idea of beautification

"Last time, our ward 'Rajiv Gandhi II' was ranked third in terms of cleanliness in the state and first in the city. I thought let me do this so that we could be ranked first," said Arun Kumar Tiwari, corporator of Nagar Nigam, representing Gomti Nagar area in Lucknow, told Gaon Connection.

The "this" that he talked about was painting trees with synthetic colours for beautification. The corporation of Viram Khand in Gomti Nagar started this as a project as a pilot. The plan was to implement it across the city. He said it would add longevity to the trees.

However, as soon as the forest department came to know about this, it directed them to stop work.

When Gaon Connection talked to Tiwari, this is what he said: "We had spoken to several officers before we started this project. We had selected an area spread across 100 meters for this. We wished to complete it before Diwali. We had spoken to many people who had given us positive feedback."

The corporator said that painting would add longevity to the trees

He added: "Before starting the project, we had spoken to Dr Bharat Raj, who is an environmental expert. He had told me that painting trees would not cause any harm. Instead, it would add more years to their lives."

When Gaon Connection contacted Dr Singh to understand this logic, he said: "Trees withdraw water through roots and supplies it to its leaves. The tree's trunk plays a vital role in this. It is usually thick and helps water to evaporate. A curtain is needed to prevent this evaporation, which paint can provide. It will lock the water inside and boost its growth. We must understand that water will not reach the leaves if it evaporates from the trunk. This is why it's not harmful to paint trunks of trees."

"We apply paint on our furniture, don't we?"

When asked if it is harmful, he said there shouldn't be any chemicals in the paint even though the trunk is lifeless. "We apply paint on our furniture to protect it. We apply primer on our doors. If we protect any hard surface with a cloth, it will last for long," said Dr Singh, who is also the director-general of the School of Management Sciences in Lucknow.

However, Dr Krishna Tiwari, chief scientist at the National Botanical Research Institute, said: "Paints are not good for trees. When we paint in our botanical gardens, we make sure that we apply geru (an earthly red colour) or slaked lime. We don't use synthetic paints. Although it's difficult to know how harmful it is, but there are several chemicals in paints, which are harmful."

Many trees in Gomti Nagar area of Lucknow were painted with colours for beautification.

"No more painting," said the Forest department

RN Gupta, sub-divisional officer (SDO) of the forest department said that they have directed the officers to stop the work. "We have asked the corporator to ensure that the paint that they were using is not harmful to trees. PWD workers usually use watercolour, which are not harmful. We have to check that the colours that they are using are not affecting the trees."

When asked if their permission was sought before starting the project, he said: "They have not taken permission from us. They made sure that the project officers didn't even know about trees being painted. We have not done any counting so far."

However, Sunil Pardal, who was given the responsibility of doing work at the site, said, "Under this project, 100 trees spread across 110 meters were to be painted."

Commenting on the idea of painting trees, Venketesh Dutta, who is a professor of environment management at Baba Saheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Lucknow, said: "Like humans, trees are also living beings. Would you feel good if somebody paints your body?"

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