Even as the city is losing its green cover to rampant construction, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s tree authority gave permission for 11,072 trees to be cut last year to make way for buildings and infrastructure projects.
Data compiled by the BMC shows the tree authority, a special committee chaired by the municipal commissioner, has given permission to chop 11,072 trees and transplant 7,420 trees.
The highest number of tree-cutting permissions, 1,676, were given in May while 1,164 trees were transplanted that month.
The BMC allowed trees to be cut to make way for the Metro rail, monorail and flyovers on Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar road and more than 50 trees will be chopped for widening Mithi river.
The tree census that the BMC conducted in 2008 showed that the city has at least 20 lakh trees. Mumbai has one tree for every 6.24 people, a ratio worse than New York, which has three trees for every person.
According to the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act (1975), it is mandatory to plant two trees for every tree that needs to be chopped.
Environment activists say this norm is flouted because there is no mechanism to keep a check. “The civic body is clearing proposals, under the guise of development, without thinking of the impact on the tree cover,” said Nilesh Baxi, activist and member of the tree authority.
Nationalist Congress Party corporators, Niyaz Vanu, who is a member of the tree authority committee, said: “There should be more stringent rules before granting permissions to chop trees.”
Deputy municipal commissioner (gardens) Chandrashekhar Rokade said the BMC has a target of planting more than one lakh trees and has also planned incentives for citizens who plant and nurture trees in their localities.
“A recent amendment to the tree Act also says that the there should be at least five trees within 100metres of a housing society. We are surveying the city and will ask societies to plant more trees,” Rokade
Baxi said the tree authority now wants to plant grown trees instead of saplings because they survive better.