A group of citizens approached officials of the civic tree authority on Monday to object to the axing of 34 healthy Ashoka trees to facilitate a blast-proof wall at Mantralaya, the state headquarters.
The citizens raised objections after a recent public notice stated that the said trees were coming in the way of a planned alteration to the structure of the building. The notice, in a local daily, invited citizen’ suggestions.
The citizens’ objections have now been sent to civic chief Sitaram Kunte for further intervention.
The Mumbai Fire Brigade had conducted a safety audit of Mantralaya following a major fire that gutted four floors in June 2012. Based on the suggestions provided by them, a decision to construct a blast-proof wall outside Mantralaya's main gate was taken.
Officials from the Public Works Department (PWD) undertaking the construction work at the state headquarters claimed that the trees would be duly replanted once the proposal is cleared. “We will try our best to protect as many trees as possible. We will not begin work on this project without making arrangements for the due replantation of the trees,” said PWD secretary Shyamal Kumar Mukherjee.
However, activists questioned the credibility of this prospect. “We fear that the trees would not be properly transplanted or replanted, thereby costing the city its green cover,” said activist Anil Galgali, who along with a delegation of concerned citizens met the tree authority officers. “There is a need to review this proposal before a decision is taken to construct the wall.”
Mantralaya falls under the civic body’s proposed list of heritage structures. As part of the renovation plan, windows, entrances and walls in the building will be specially designed to be fire-proof. The administration may also be planning an underground bunker to protect VIPs in case of untoward incidents such as terror attacks.