This year in monsoon Mumbai had witnessed a large increase in the number of trees collapsing incidents that claimed many lives. Amid the fall in the air quality levels in the city, BMC’s negligence to get to the root of the main cause of trees collapsing due to the concretisation within the space of 1 sq.mt at the footpath near trees is erring the city dwellers.
Congress corporator Ravi Raja expressed, “This is really a serious issue especially at a situation when air pollution is at its peak. Such negligence by BMC is not accepted. Moreover, the way the trees are being destroyed for the metro project is intolerable. It will have a serious consequence in the near future. Through Afternoon Voice, I would like to request the city dwellers to inform us if any such irregularities by the BMC are taking place at your area, we will together fight against the issue.”
In order to get roots to grow and expand, the BMC officials had instructed to earmark the free space up to one square meter of land around the tree, while the employees of the corporation several times failed to follow the guidelines and allot space up to one or one-and-a-half-feet. On this backdrop, the court had directed the corporation to remove the symmetry surrounding the tree bullets. Although the corporation has started work to implement these orders, but the sources say that it is observed that the process simply is just for the sake. There has been an increase in the number of casualties due to the collapse of trees since the past few years. This year, the BMC employees cut branches of 95 thousand trees. However, even after that, the incident of tree fall is not reduced. This year, seven people lost their lives due to tree collapses.
A social activist from Chembur on the condition of anonymity stated, “It’s been years that we are working against this carelessness of the BMC. Whenever broken footpaths are repaired, the unused materials are never cleaned from the place. The rules pertaining to making footpath keeping 1 sq.mt space around the root of the tree is hardly being followed. Unfortunately, when air pollution is at the top of the talks and unbreathable air quality in the metro cities is a major concern, our administrations is gradually turning this city’s situation just like Delhi. Protecting trees is the only solution at this life-and-death moment!”
According to a survey, Mumbai currently has 29,75,283 trees amongst which there are 11,25,182 trees at government places while 1,85,333 trees on the footpath out of which 143 collapsed during monsoon. At present, the area around the trees on the roads of the municipal headquarters, Dadar, Gokhale Road is under construction. According to the court order, it is necessary to free the space around one meter of the trees, while experts believe that there is no directive to keep 1 meter free from all directions on the ground. Nonetheless, out of 15,63,701 trees 363 collapsed on private properties. According to the reports, this year seven people were killed and 21 were injured in the incidents.
Congress MLC Bhai Jagtap commented that the casualties is indeed a result of BMC’s utmost negligence and the civic body can’t get away from its responsibilities.
“Due to poor environmental quality and hygiene issues, thousands of Mumbaikars die every year suffering from Tuberculosis but BMC is clueless and has no measures to stop that. The already decided measurable factors to save the trees on the city footpaths must be followed. Whenever the negligence by the BMC towards these issues like environment or health are discussed in the house, the administration promises prompt action but nothing see the light of reality. In the ward number 224, Colaba, I myself questioned the corporate about the irregularities happening while they were planting trees on the footpath,” he shared.
Some NGOs had filed a petition in the court to report the collapse of trees. When this matter came before the Green Tribunal, the tribunal directed the corporation to remove the encroachment around the tree’s pillar. Accordingly, the municipality will remove the collapse of the bottom of the pillars. In some places, work has been started to free the part of a few feet of the roots. Commissioner Ajoy Mehta has asked the Department of Horticulture to study and report how many parts should be set around the trees.
Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Gardens), Dr. Kishor Kshirsagar had mentioned earlier that the trees placed on or around the concrete roads of Mumbai where there are chances of traffic due to the falling of the trees, should be cut down immediately; however, the work is in progress in all the departments. According to Superintendent of Garden and Trees, Jitendra Pardeshi had also said that the part of the tree is being freed as per the width of roads and pavement.
When AV tried contacting Kishore Kshirsagar and Jitendra Pardeshi, they remained unavailable to comment.