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Prune trees, societies told

In a bid to avoid a repeat of the July 24 incident, which cost 19-year-old collegian Antara Telang her right foot, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is now targeting trees growing wild in private societies. Kunal Purohit reports.

mumbai Updated: Aug 20, 2010 02:07 IST
Kunal Purohit

In a bid to avoid a repeat of the July 24 incident, which cost 19-year-old collegian Antara Telang her right foot, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is now targeting trees growing wild in private societies.

Antara’s ordeal

On July 24, Antara Telang (18), an FYBA student from St Xavier’s College, was on her way home from Guru Tegh Bahadur station, when she stopped to buy a corncob at Road No. 15 in Sion.

A tree branch, which was hanging precariously outside Bansari Bhavan Society, fell on Antara, crushing her right leg.

She was rushed to Sion Hospital, where her right leg was amputated. Her left leg is fractured.

A day after Hindustan Times reported the incident — on August 16 — the municipal body initiated an inquiry into it.

Antara’s friends started a Facebook campaign — BMC, prune overgrown trees soon — to protest the municipal corporation’s careless attitude towards pruning trees.

On Day 1, 130 people joined the online campaign on Facebook.

On Day 2, the number touched 255.

The civic body will be instructing societies to prune any tree that they believe is dangerous and could endanger life.

The move comes just days after Hindustan Times had reported how the civic body’s dilly-dallying in pruning a tree inside the premises of a housing society caused Antara to lose her right foot. A loosely hanging branch of the tree came crashing down on her as she stood under the tree outside the premises.

Additional Municipal Commissioner Aseem Gupta told Hindustan Times that civic officials had inspected the tree earlier but had decided nothing was wrong with it.

“Officials had not found the tree dangerous enough to be trimmed, hence members of the society were not informed.” Gupta also said that there had been resistance from the residents against trimming the tree.

Speaking about the new decision, deputy municipal commissioner, in-charge of gardens, Chandrashekhar Rokade said, “If there’s a dangerous tree inside a private premises that can endanger life, then we’ll take immediate action to ensure that it is pruned.” Rokade added, “We do not exercise any control over what can be done inside private premises. Hence, we will issue strict warnings to them to trim all such trees.”

This, observers say, will come as a significant step, if implemented. The tree that fell on Antara was also located inside a private housing society.

“Earlier, the BMC would refuse to enter any society that had trees branching out over public roads. If the BMC shows serious will in issuing strict warnings to societies, then the problem could be reduced to a great extent,” said a member of BMC’s Tree Authority, on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, on Day 3 of the online campaign initiated by Antara’s friends, 430 campaigners had registered, 200 more than on Wednesday.

According to Antara’s friends, the aim of the campaign is to ensure a more transparent tree trimming policy and ensure more efficiency in the same.