Praveen Rao shudders every time he walks through his building compound. A large tree has been growing dangerously outside, its branches entering balconies and often crashing to the ground.
Every time Rao sees the tree, he’s reminded of Antara Telang (18), whose leg was crushed by a falling branch at Sion and had to be amputated on July 24.
Residents of Garodia Nagar, Ghatkopar (E), Rao and his neighbours asked the civic body to trim the tree in 2009. Yet, despite several reminders, officials haven’t even inspected the tree.
One member of the Tree Authority, which okays the pruning and cutting of trees, said on condition of anonymity: “There’s a rot that’s set into the Gardens Department [which actually cuts and prunes trees].”
The equipment the department — which has a budget of Rs 286.90 crore — has is a concern too. “Every zone has a vehicle-mounted ladder. But they need to be repaired often and are unavailable,” said an officer in a suburban ward.
“We have axes with which we cut trees. We also have electric saws, but they too suffer often from technical snags.”
Experts said there are several tools available in the market that the department could use.
“Across the world, machines such as electric pruners and chain-powered long-reach pruners are used. The civic body, however, is yet to procure any of this,” said Avinash Kubal, deputy director of Maharashtra Nature Park and Tree Authority member.
Most importantly, he said, there is no skilled manpower to inspect and trim trees.
“The civic body employs horticulturists, who aren’t suited to the job. Hence, most times, they fail to arrive at the right conclusion. There is no skilled manpower for trimming trees either. As a result, most times, trimming results in the tree’s death.”
Because there aren’t ladders to reach the higher branches, workers leave them untrimmed.
“Most tree-trimmings are done by the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport because the trees obstruct its buses,” said Kubal.
Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Gardens) Chandrashekhar Rokade admitted that there were problems with the equipment.
Activists and officials said an accident such as the one that befell Telang could be avoided.
“We need to employ experts to inspect all trees in every ward before each monsoon and draw up a database,” said Kubal. Aseem Gupta, additional municipal commissioner, said: “We must plug the loopholes. We are open to suggestions.”