The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) passed a landmark policy on Monday that compensates all victims of tree and branch collapses in the city.
In its series of reports on tree collapses, Hindustan Times had criticised the BMC’s outdated tree pruning mechanism and held it accountable for such accidents.
Following the reports, the civic chief had announced that a new tree trimming mechanism and a compensation policy would be in place by the end of September.
“It is probably the first time in the BMC’s history that the municipal commissioner has stepped in and acted so swiftly, and formulated a policy in this regard,” said Niranjan Shetty, a Tree Authority member.
As per the policy, there are three types of compensation: Rs 1 lakh for the family of a victim killed; Rs 50,000 for victims who suffer permanent disability; and all medical expenses taken care of for those injured, provided they get treated in a civic hospital.
The policy will cover all victims, irrespective of whether the tree is located on public space or private premises.
In its original policy, the BMC had proposed that it would compensate only victims in cases where the trees are located on public space.
“We made it clear to the BMC that we won’t accept a policy that does not cover all victims, irrespective of the location of the tree,” said Niyaz Vanu, NCP leader and Tree Authority member.
“We amended the policy. In the new policy, the location of the tree is not important but the location of the victim is,” said Chandrashekhar Rokade, deputy municipal commissioner (gardens). In its September 10 edition, HT had reported that the BMC had finally decided to compensate all victims.
The BMC will form a committee that will look into all cases where somebody is injured or killed. “It will decide on the compensation a victim should get,” Rokade said.
The policy, however, does not spell out the penalty to be levied on societies or people who don’t trim trees despite a BMC nod. “The committee will decide what action should be taken,” he said.
BJP corporator Ram Barot criticised the policy. “The BMC should have increased the amount, especially for the family who has lost someone,” he said.