Mathura: Thousands of trees were destroyed, many charred, in the violence that erupted last week following exchange of fire between police and squatters at Jawahar Bagh in Mathura.
Uttar Pradesh horticulture department officials said the number of trees burnt or destroyed could be more than 5,000, mostly fruit-bearing varieties.
Environmentalists in Mathura have demanded firm action against the culprits responsible for loss of the green cover.
Braj Bachao Samiti members said the state horticulture department that owns the 260 acre bagh should have acted against the encroachers but chose to ignore damage to the ecology.
However, the officials of the department said they had lodged many complaints with the police and informed the senior district officials repeatedly.
The trees lost were full grown and years of hard work had greened the whole Jawahar Bagh, an official said. "Clearly the loss is irreparable and will take years to restore the green cover."
At a time when the whole Braj area is being denuded of green cover due to urbanisation, loss of thousands of trees is a huge ecological threat, environment activist Shravan Kumar Singh said.
In May, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Hema Malini had publicly admonished a gram pradhan for felling of trees at Banshi Vat and in Maant area.
However, the pradhan hit back blaming the actor-politician for using foul words leading to his hospitalisation.
"The loss of greenery all over the state and river Yamuna are matters of serious concern and government agencies should wake up to remedy the imbalance," Hema Malini told IANS.