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March 28, 2011

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Home » Metro » Environment

Outcry as trees removed for subway

SHOCKED locals woke up yesterday morning to see that old trees lining Maoming Road N. had been removed overnight to make way for the city's subway expansion.

The 37 plane trees had been there for almost 50 years, providing welcome shade in summer months.

"I woke up in the morning and sensed something was wrong, that something was missing," said a resident surnamed Wang, who lives in an old complex on Maoming Road.

"Then I realized that the trees were gone, leaving the street with a dead look for spring."

Cement covered the spots where the plane trees had once stood, leaving telegraph poles as the only "trunks" left on the busy street.

Workers had set up a notice board stating that the removal of the trees was approved by the city's greenery bureau and that they would replant them elsewhere.

But some residents were concerned that rough handling during their removal meant many would not survive.

"That's cutting off, not removal," said a 56-year-old resident surnamed Zhang pointing at a piece of tree root poking out from the cement.

Zhang said she witnessed workers quickly removing the trees and loading them onto construction vehicles about 11pm on Saturday.

She believed that the workers chose that time to avoid attention from the public.

Zhang said she felt sad as the trees had been a feature of the street for around 50 years.

In summer, they had offered shade to residents and pedestrians, before their branches were cut off to protect nearby electric cables.

Concerns were also aired online after a web user photographed the removal process and uploaded the pictures on to Sina's microblog, claiming workers had cut trees from their roots.

"The roots were too big for the workers to pull out, so they just cut them" claimed the web user. The pictures were forwarded some 1,500 times in 15 hours.

The trees are a victim of the expansion of the city's Metro system.

"They had to be removed, otherwise we cannot carry out construction work for the Metro line," said Lu Xiongwei, an official of the Metro Line 12 Development Co.

A station is due to be built on a cleared site next to where the trees stood.

But Lu said he didn't know whether the workers "removed" the trees without damaging them as the work was overseen by the city's greenery bureau, which later transferred the work to a relocation company.

Web users blamed the government for removing the trees without taking residents' advice, and contrasted the process to a tree-protection campaign in Nanjing.

Earlier this month, following public outcry, Nanjing government officials stopped work to cut down more than 1,000 trees, including many plane trees, to make way for subway expansion projects.


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