‘Heartbreaking’: Residents lament chopping down of ‘unauthorised’ trees at Aljunied HDB block

SINGAPORE: An avid gardener, Mr Lim has planted many trees near his home at Block 126 Aljunied Road over the last decade.

The 66-year-old retiree has lived in the area for about 30 years. He and a group of other longtime neighbours grew moringa trees and other edible plants and herbs, and residents would harvest them for their consumption.

But to their dismay, most of the trees have been chopped down. Last Wednesday (Jun 26), workers hired by Marine Parade Town Council – which oversees the estate – removed trees that it said were “unauthorised plantings”.

“This is an old estate, so there’s lots of space. In many estates like ours, everyone grows their own plants downstairs,” said Mr Lim, who did not want his full name published, in Mandarin.

“This is a special feature of our neighbourhood. I don’t know why they don’t want to retain it and make it something we can be proud of.”

But the town council said other residents had complaints. Some of the trees and plants were overgrown and blocked open drains, which affected cleaning works and resulted in the breeding of mosquitos, it said.

“We also received feedback from residents about the poor maintenance of these unauthorised plantings,” the town council said. 

Some of the trees were growing crooked and overgrown branches were damaging a fence, it added.

“As there was no action taken on these overgrown trees or plants despite multiple advisories, the town council carried out the removal of these plantings in the area.” 

Residents CNA spoke to said Mr Lim is a diligent gardener and is often seen cleaning the area and taking care of the plants in the mornings and evenings. 

Mr Tan Chong Kiat objected to the town council’s claims about the drains being blocked, saying that Mr Lim clears the leaves in the drain more often than the workers managing the estate. 

“Every day he’s there. And he’s doing it for free. He’s not asking for money, he’s doing this out of his own passion,” said the 61-year-old resident, who started gardening with Mr Lim during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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