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HindustanTimes Sun,28 Dec 2014

BMC yet to implement census, cleared plans to cut 8,970 trees

Poorvi Kulkarni, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 20, 2013
First Published: 09:01 IST(20/8/2013) | Last Updated: 09:05 IST(20/8/2013)

Even as the civic body is yet to implement the tree census project in Mumbai, it has approved numerous proposals from private and government agencies to hack trees.

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After constant delays and three failed attempts to implement its ambitious Global Positioning System-based tree census project over the last 10 months, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is once again back to square one: it is formulating tenders to invite bids from private firms to execute the Rs. 6 crore project.

Members of the Tree Authority at a meeting on Monday demanded that the second lowest bidder be handed over the contract.

In the meanwhile, it has cleared proposals to cut 8,790 trees, since April 2012, for infrastructure projects and private building construction.

Once complete, the GPS enabled tree census will equip the civic body to record comprehensive details of each tree in the city, including its height, girth, life expectancy and would also help keep a check on illegal felling of trees.

However, the poor response from firms has set the project back by several months.

Of the two firms responded, one had been allegedly blacklisted by the Pune civic body, during an earlier project.

“Considering that the census has already been much delayed, why can’t the contract be given to the second lowest bidder if it meets the qualifications?” said Ameet Satam, BJP corporator and member of the authority.

But, maintaining that tenders would be re-floated in the next ten days, SS Shinde, deputy municipal commissioner (gardens), said: “The tendering process is an administrative decision. We are deliberating on how conditions of the contract can be framed so that more firms come forward this time”.

This red- tape, however, experts warned, was costing the city its tree cover, with no tangible check on the number of trees being lost to hacking.

“Alternatives must be considered by the BMC if it is not finding firms for the GPS-enabled census. The manual census could have been started till the technology was ready for use,” said Dr Nilesh Baxi, activist and former tree authority member.


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