The civic body claims only 264 trees were felled in the city last year, but the number of trees felled in a month alone were actually five times more than the annual figure.
According to a statement submitted to the civic body chief Subodh Kumar by the officials of the gardens department, 54 proposals to fell 264 trees were approved by the tree authority from April 2010 to March 2011. According to it, an average of 22 trees were supposed to be felled in a month.
The Hindustan Times has accessed civic records, which show that in a meeting held on January 7, 2011, the tree authority approved 18 proposals to fell around 1,191 trees in January alone. Tree authority member Niranjan Shetty blamed the civic administration for ‘the shockingly misleading statistics’. “How can officials from the gardens department mislead citizens as well as the BMC chief with such information, only to hide their failure in protecting trees? This is completely unpardonable,” Shetty said.
Another member, Dr Nilesh Bakshi slammed the administration and said these figures weren’t reflective at all. “In fact, the tree authority gives permissions to fell more trees in one month, than the 264 they have said for the whole year.”
Deputy municipal commissioner (gardens) Suhas Karvande said he couldn’t confirm or reject the figures. “I don’t have the figures with me, but it is suspected that the tree authority could have permitted as low as 264 trees in a year.”
Another discrepancy is about the number of trees which were transplanted by the tree authority. The official statement claims that permission transplant only 103 trees. However, data obtained by HT reveals that the tree authority gave nod to transplant 583 trees in January alone.
Shetty said it was difficult to believe that this was a mere administrative goof-up. “It needs to be investigated as to how could the gardens department be so way off target while giving information on the number of trees felled in the city,” he said.