They save trees from abuse in their free time, and you can too!

Through the month of April, volunteers of NGO Nizhal have been freeing trees of advertisement boards and other forms of constriction, thus gifting them a fresh lease of life.

Have you ever stopped to read an advertisement board nailed onto a tree trunk? Or stared in awe at the pretty strings of lights used to adorn many a tree during the festive season? Now place yourself in the position of the tree and think again! These fixtures or constricting elements on our mature trees actually kill them silently. However, the good news is that even as a concerned citizen, you can save the city’s trees, free them from such abuse and give them a new lease of life and respect.

Free the Tree Campaigns or FTCs organised by Nizhal, the Chennai organisation devoted to planting, nurturing and caring for trees in the city, gives you an opportunity to stand up for trees and take necessary steps to free them from any form of abuse. The organisation’s volunteer teams have been conducting such drives in various neighbourhoods around the city. In early April, there were two FTCs by Nizhal’s YuVa team at Madhavaram and Velachery.

FTC at Madhavaram








FTC at Velachery








On the weekend of April 17th, the Nizhal FTC team freed trees in the Kottur neighbourhood. During the drive, they also took time to name-board the Magizham restored post Vardah. One of Nizhal’s focus areas in the aftermath of cyclone Vardah was restoration of fallen giant trees. This Magizham was one such.

FTC Team name-boards the Magizham tree restored post Vardah in Kottur.

On April 23rd, trees were freed by the YuVa team during an FTC in Anna Nagar. Their enthusiasm and zeal prompted some of the local residents and even police personnel to pitch in and pledge their support in future.

FTCs like the above can be undertaken in any locality as long as there is a group of interested citizens, who can approach Nizhal for guidance. Schools and colleges can take up these campaigns as part of their extra curricular activities. The activity could be as simple as devoting an hour or two, every week or fortnight in the respective neighbourhood.

Recognising the fact that real progress in nature conservation can occur only through the collaboration and participation of local communities, organizations and citizens, Nizhal has also put out a guide for all Chennaiites, which talks about the appropriate response to tree cutting and abuse. If you see trees in public places defaced by advertisement boards or banners, constricted by lights or cables, suffocated by cement at the base, stifled by tree guards or vandalised by indiscriminate cutting, here’s what you should do:

  • Immediately call the toll free number 1913 and register a complaint
  • Register an online complaint with the Corporation of Chennai at; You can upload appropriate pictures, if any.
  • Reach the local Assistant Commissioner of the concerned zone by dialing 9445190 0XX (XX is your zone number)
  • Give a written complaint to the local zonal office and also to local police.
  • If it is very urgent, call the Mayor at 9840048944.
  • Once done, you can pass on the reference number from Corporation or the CSR number from the police station to Nizhal for follow up.

[The information in this article has been collated from various group mailers and public messages issues by Nizhal, and published here with minimal edits.]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Bengaluru’s street vendors are the first to be impacted by climate change: Lekha Adavi

Lekha Adavi, member of AICTU, says the nature of street vending has changed in the city due to the impact of climate change.

(This is part 1 of the interview with Lekha Adavi on the impact of climate change on Bengaluru's street vendors) On May 1st, while the world celebrated Labour Day, Bengaluru recorded its highest temperature in 40 years. With temperatures continually on the rise, one of the most affected groups are street and peripatetic vendors (vendors who operate on foot or with push carts). In this interview, Lekha Adavi, member of the All India Centre of Trade Unions (AICTU), talks about the effect of climate change on street vendors. Excerpts: Lekha Adavi, member of the All India Centre of Trade Unions…

Similar Story

Smothered by smog: Struggle of vegetable vendors in Delhi’s Keshopur Mandi

Delhi's air pollution affects every resident, but for the urban poor, like vegetable vendors of Keshopur Mandi, it is much worse.

Halfway through our interview, vegetable vendor Rekha asked me point blank, “Isse kya hoga,” and at that moment, I could not think of an answer. She was right and had every reason to be hopeless. Much has been written about air pollution and much energy has been spent on expert committees and political debates and yet nothing has changed.  “Hum toh garib log hai, hum kisko jakar bole, hamari sunvai nahin hoti” (We are poor people, to whom do we go, nobody listens to us),” says Rekha Devi, who sells vegetables in the Keshopur Mandi. Keshopur is a large retail…