Residents of Peddar Road are worried that close to 100 trees — most around 80 to 100 years old — would be cut for construction of a national museum and an amphitheatre.
The civic tree authority has permitted cutting of trees in the campus of Films Division, a Government of India undertaking, for building the museum, amphitheatre and an underground parking lot.
“The plan of constructing an amphitheatre for children and underground parking lot required the permissions to cut around 100 trees,” said Chandrashekhar Rokde, deputy municipal commissioner (gardens).
The Films Division insisted that it had required permission from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to cut trees and plant new ones. “We will soon start planting new trees in our premises as per the law. The museum will be a world-class film museum and first of its kind in India,” said an official from Films Division, requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to media.
However, residents are upset that they were not informed about the move. “Already 3-4 trees near the institute’s boundary wall have been chopped off. One won’t construct anything so close to the walls. We need to know why those trees were cut,” said Hoshang Maneckshaw, manager, St Helen’s Court, an adjoining building.
The building members have sent letters to Peddar Road Residents Association, National Society of Friends of Trees and the civic body asking them to intervene in the matter.
When contacted, Niranjan Shetty, member of the tree authority said it was the responsibility of a junior tree officer or horticulture assistant of the ward to check whether trees were being cut according to the permission. “We normally try to preserve the trees at the boundary,” Shetty said.
“The trees are around 80-100 years,” said a resident on condition of anonymity. “Strict rules are apply to us when we have to cut a tree, but it is completely different when it comes to government land.”