Heavy rains on Sunday, coupled with a large trench dug nearby to lay cables, spelled the death of an 80-year-old neem tree on Kasturba Gandhi Marg. The stately tree came crashing down at 7pm on Monday. Fortunately, there were no casualties.
The neem tree, almost a metre wide, stood on the junction of Copernicus Lane and Kasturba Gandhi (KG) Marg.
Delhi Transco had dug a large trench between the road (KG Marg) and the footpath for laying cables towards the new electric line sub-station off Ferozshah Road for New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC).
Following Sunday's strong winds and 14.9 mm rainfall, the exposed roots of the tree were showing signs of damage.
"Last night, we noticed that the soil around the tree's roots was coming off. Hence, this morning, we filled in the portion of the trench near it with soil," said a Delhi Transco official who visited the spot.
Civic officials raised questions about the way digging was being carried out and whether the power utility had permission for the same.
"Apparently, the power utility had dug more than it was supposed to," said an NDMC official on condition of anonymity.
However, Rishi Raj, public relations officer, Delhi Transco said, "Tree falling has got nothing to do with our cable-laying work. Besides, we had all the permissions."
The uprooting is likely to be a slow but certain death for the majestic tree. A senior forest official who visited the spot observed, "It is difficult to transplant neem trees."