It was the lethal combination of heavy rain and unsteady trees on Monday that resulted in 66 tree collapses in just 24 hours.
In two separate tree collapse incidents in Chembur on Monday, a teenager and a senior citizen suffered minor injuries. Amit Pandgale, 13, was injured after a tree fell outside his residence on to the wall of his house on Sion Trombay Road, while 75-year-old Ranchandre Gawli was injured after a tree fell on his head on CD Gidwani road. He was taken to the Shatabdi hospital and discharged soon after.
On Thursday, 24-year-old Ashwini Satpute was killed after a tree collapsed inside a private office complex. The rising incidents of tree collapses, on both municipal and private properties, have made citizens nervous.
Tree collapses, resulting in deaths and injuries, have been a concern every monsoon. According to figures obtained from the BMC, 21 people in the city have been killed as a result of tree collapses since 2005.
Though the civic body claims to have pruned 11,629 trees that had been marked for trimming ahead of the monsoon this year, the recent spate of tree collapses have prompted activists and experts to blame the BMC for adopting a lax approach.
“Four years ago, there was a proposal passed by the tree authority to make the development of a natural soil base mandatory around each and every tree in the city, but it was not implemented. Owners and occupants of private premises should also be given notices to create a soil base of 15 inches, surrounding trees in their properties,” said former tree authority member, Nilesh Baxi, adding that more than heavy showers, it is the weakening of tree roots that make them vulnerable to collapse.
Nikhil Desai, a resident of Matunga, said that despite repeated complaints to the F-north ward office about dangerous trees in his locality, officials have not paid any heed. “Action on citizens’ complaint is often delayed as the permission of trimming has to come from the central gardens department. The process of seeking permissions must be made more simple by giving the authority to junior tree officers at ward level.”