A dust storm, followed by rains, earlier this week led to chaos on colony roads in south Delhi. Strong winds (98kmph) uprooted several fully grown trees in different localities. Defence Colony was the worst affected area where more than 50 trees were damaged. According to the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), complaints of trees falling or being uprooted were received from Lajpat Nagar-I, Defence Colony, Andrews Ganj, Vasant Vihar, South Extension-II and Sanwal Nagar. No loss of human life was reported but several vehicles were damaged after trees or branches fell on them. Residents said most of trees destroyed during the storm were either overgrown or aged.
Andrews Ganj councillor Abhishek Dutt said he had received complaints from 66 places regarding the damage to trees. He visited several locations and directed the horticulture department of SDMC, Public Works Department (PWD) and Central PWD for removing the fallen trees or branches from the roads. However, even after three days, the agencies have not finished the task. “This is not the first time that I approached authorities. In March, I wrote to the municipal corporation to arrange pruning of trees in many localities. But they failed to get a permission from the forest department and thus no work was done.”
In the letter to SDMC’s horticulture department, Dutt mentioned the location of 11 trees which were old and could fall at any time. Apart from these trees, the councillor had also shared the locations of 433 trees which need immediate pruning. “During the recent rains, most of the trees mentioned in the list were toppled due to strong winds.”
About six cars were damaged as branches fell on them during the storm. “The front mirror of my car was damaged. The incident could be averted if pruning was done on time,” said KD Singh, a resident of Andrews Ganj.
Two trees were uprooted outside the main market in Ishwar Nagar, on Mathura Road close to Modi flyover. According to shopkeepers, PWD was in the process of renovating a drain outside the market and the trees were next to it. “The agency had dug the road but the project was left midway. The digging work loosened the soil and the trees fell down with strong winds,” said a local shopkeeper.
Irked by the slow response of the agency, residents of Vasant Vihar asked the authorities to take immediate action and remove fallen branches on arterial roads. “Complaints from 11 places about falling of trees were forwarded to departments including SDMC and PWD. And even after three days PWD has failed to remove them from T-points near Basant Marg and Paschimi Marg,” said Shashoi Nag, member of Vasant Vihar Welfare Association. According to him, the association has already shared a list of dead trees with the forest department, but it hasn’t received any reply.
“During the last rains, healthy trees also lost due to the heavy winds, so it won’t be appropriate to blame the agencies alone for the mess. As far as the pruning of trees is concerned we have already shared the list with forest department. But they want us to get permission letters from RWAs as well. We are collecting them now,” said KS Meena, deputy director, horticulture, SDMC.