The elite ward A, which includes areas of south Mumbai such as Colaba, Cuffe Parade and Nariman Point is gaining the dubious distinction of becoming the epicentre of fatal tree falling incidents in the city.
According to civic records, there have been five casualties due to tree collapses in the past three years in this ward. Out of the total eight deaths that occurred since 2009 due to fallen trees, five were in this ward alone.
The latest incident took place on Sunday night, when a 27-year-old woman and her six-month-old daughter were crushed to death outside the Inox theatre at Nariman Point, when a huge banyan tree came crashing down on them.
Last year, in two separate incidents, two persons were killed in a span of three days on P D’mello Road near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, after being crushed under trees that collapsed (See box).
Tree authority member Dr Nilesh Bakshi said that ideally, ward A should have witnessed the least number of tree collapses among all wards in the city.
“It’s paradoxical because only ward A has enough space for tree roots to grow and get
sufficient water and air. Ideally, these trees shouldn’t be
collapsing. However, thanks to faulty implementation and negligence on the part of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, these incidents continue to take place.”
Avinash Kubal, deputy director, Maharashtra Nature Park and tree authority member, blamed excessive concretisation and paving in the ward for the frequent instances of tree collapses.
“Ward A has seen excessive paving because of which soil cannot get access to air. As a result, the soil lacks in nutrients which weakens its structure.”
Kubal said that paving needed to be more regulated if such trees were to be saved.
Deputy municipal commissioner (gardens) Suhas Karvande said, “Since these areas were the first ones to be developed, most of these trees are very old. These trees grow huge in size and when concretisation obstructs their further growth, it becomes difficult for the trees to sustain themselves, which results in them collapsing.”
In a reference to Sunday’s incident, Karvande said, “Due to concretisation around the ill-fated banyan tree, there was hardly any space for its roots to grow. As a result, the tree gradually weakened and collapsed.”