Ghaziabad: Residents, devotees divided over removal of religious structures

Ashni Dhaor,Ghaziabad: The National Green Tribunal order to remove all kinds of encroachments from the

green belt in Vasundhara, which includes religious structures, has not found favour with devotees.
Defeating the core purpose of a green belt — it’s an area meant to provide green cover in urban areas — the one stretching from Kanavani bridge to Sector 19, Vasundhara, has become a site for garbage dumping and encroachments.
While residents welcomed the national green tribunal (NGT)’s order to remove all encroachments, some devotees have expressed their reservations about the order.“A number of religious structures have come up on the green belt, which is not only bad for the environment, but also a traffic nuisance. Devotees who visit these places of worship park their vehicles on the adjacent road, leaving hardly any space for traffic,” said Abha Rai, a resident of sector 19, Vasundhara.
The green belt has eight religious structures between Sector 11 and Sector 19, Vasundhara. In places where there are no encroachments, the belt is covered with garbage.
“We respect religious sentiments of the people of all faiths, but felling trees to construct temples is wrong and we welcome the NGT order. Devotees should rather plant trees like banyan and peepul and worship them since they also hold significance in religious scriptures. People should rise above religion and think about the environment,” said Gireesh Sharma, a resident of sector 17, Vasundhara.
However, some said the religious structures have helped keep the green belt clean.
“The temples should not be removed as a lot of people’s faith is associated with it. Moreover, people do not dump garbage around the places of worship as a respect to it. This helps keep the green belt clean,” said Narender Nagar, a resident of Sector 11, Vasundhara.
According to the petitioner, the NGT order has to be followed despite religious preferences.
“Today, there is global concern regarding the environment and it should hold the utmost importance before anything else. If we let encroachments in the name of God happen all over the city, then there will not be any green cover left. There is ample space in the city to construct temples but not enough space for green belts to survive. Hence, the NGT order should be complied with sans any conditions,” said Sharad Tiwari, an environmentalist and the petitioner.