A day after Hindustan Times reported that tree saplings planted along Bandra’s shopping hubs on Linking Road and SV Road were being hacked, poisoned or burnt by owners of showrooms in the area, the blame game between civic authorities and police continues on the unresolved issue.
In May 2011, the gardens department of the H-west ward had filed a case against unknown persons at Santacruz police station for the illegal felling of two Ashoka trees outside a high-end clothing showroom on Linking Road. A year later, the police has made no arrests. The ward office has continued to plant and replant saplings on the same spot despite frequent reports of burning and poisoning allegedly by showroom owners.
“The complaint was registered against unknown assailants. We have not found any witnesses to make arrests,” said Arun Chavan, senior inspector, Santacruz police station. “When civic authorities notice poisoned or burnt saplings, a case should be registered immediately.”
However, civic authorities claim the police did not take the matter seriously. “The police should first complete the investigation of the registered case before asking us to lodge fresh complaints,” said Suhas Karvande, deputy municipal commissioner (DMC), gardens department.
Meanwhile, ward officials have proposed to plant 117 more saplings across the entire H-west ward. “Even if the saplings are hacked or poisoned, we will continue to carry out a mass plantation drive,” said an official from the gardens department.
Citizen groups in the locality are questioning why the civic body is reluctant to pursue the case seriously. “In the past, there have been several instances when the corporation has failed to inform the police about such acts and later, blamed the police,” said Anandini Thakoor, chairperson, H-west Federation.