The Mumbai civic body’s apathy towards freeing trees from concrete at their base continues as a city-based non-profit organisation identified 20 trees that have been fully concretised at their base along the Aarey check naka road to Marol check naka, Aarey Colony, Goregaon (East).
NGO Watchdog Foundation filed complaints with the garden department of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Aarey authorities that the trees may die because of concretisation or may get uprooted by the next monsoon.
“The ongoing road repair work has led to mindless concretisation by cementing trees and limiting the space for them to grow. This will lead to these 20 trees drying up and their subsequent death,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee, Watchdog Foundation. “According to the guidelines laid down by the ministry of urban development and poverty alleviation, a minimum area of 6 x 6 feet around trees must be deconcretised while carpeting of pavements or roads. The concrete needs to be removed from the tree basins with immediate effect.”
According to experts, concrete affects the development of roots and weakens the tree base. Anchorage of the root gets compromised as the tree does not get enough nutrients.
On January 16, 2015, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), western bench, directed the BMC to remove concrete within a radius of one metre (1mX1mX1m) around tree trunks and ensure that no construction or repair work is done in that space for all trees in the city after city NGO Vanashakti filed an application after surveying more than 2,000 trees, which were on the verge of dying.
Both departments responsible to rectify the issue at Aarey blamed each other for the inefficiency. “We have received the complaint, but the area falls under the jurisdiction of the Aarey administration. We will still sent our officer to the site to check and report back to us,” said a senior civic official from the garden department.
“We handed over this main road passing through Aarey to the BMC last year for road repair purposes. There is an NGT order that clearly directs the garden department to leave space for the roots to get water and nutrition and it is a violation by BMC to overlook this,” said NV Rathod, chief executive officer, Aarey Milk Colony. “We will be raising the issue from our end with BMC as well.”
HT reported on January 5 that NGO GreenLine, along with 120 students from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, carried out a survey across 19 municipal wards in Mumbai and found 2,081 trees choked with concrete and rubble at the base, without any tree basins. Officials from BMC’s garden department said more than 50,000 tree bases were deconcretised since the NGT order. However, activists rubbished their claims.
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“Cement restricts the growth of tissues in the lower half of the tree bark and there is no scope for the expansion of cells, which ultimately leads to trees getting damaged and uprooted during monsoons owing to their contracted base.”
Marselin Almeida, botanist.
NGO to file execution application against BMC at NGT
As the civic body failed to meet their target of deconcretising the base of all trees in Mumbai, NGO Vanashakti that had filed the original application in 2014 highlighting the issue, will be filing an execution application against the civic body for failing to comply with the orders of the National Green Tribunal, western bench.
“We will be reporting to the Tribunal about the shoddy work done by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation,” said Stalin Dayanand, project director, Vanashakti. “They bought time and did not do anything to safeguard Mumbai’s green cover.”