As the city readies itself to celebrate Holi, city environmentalists and activists are trying hard to stop people from cutting trees, used to light the Holi bonfires. The festival will be celebrated on February 7 and February 8.
Early this week, citizen activists on 13th road in Khar (west), found chopped fresh branches of trees left to dry on the road, to be used for the Holi bonfires. Though activists sought help from the police to trace the miscreants, they haven't been successful so far.
"There are two plots in Khar where we have seen constant tree-cutting activity every year. Despite help from police and organising awareness drives, we have been able to contain only 40% of the tree cutting acts," said Anandini Thakoor, founder, Khar Residents' Association (KRA). The association intends to reduce tree cutting at next year's festival by introducing awareness drives by this year end.
According to the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, cutting trees without prior permission from the civic body is illegal and attracts a fine between Rs1,000 and Rs5,000 and imprisonment up to a week minimum or a year maximum.
Activists in the central suburbs of Sion and Matunga have a reason to cheer with fewer cases of tree cutting have been reported this year.
"The instances of tree cutting and tree felling before Holi have decreased compared to previous years. So far, we have found only five to seven spots where locals were cutting trees for Holi compared to 2009 when 25 cases were reported. In 2010, 12 cases were reported," said Gaurang Vora, a Sion resident and member of the F-North Ward Citizen's Federation. "Through pamphlets we have appealed to people to use cardboards, dried leaves and dead trees for the Holi bonfire," Vora added.
At Powai, environmentalists plan to get their hands dirty after the Holi revelry to clear the blocked gutters by picking up the remains of the synthetic plastic balloons, a day after Holi.