To save Mumbai’s shrinking green cover, two Versova residents, Neha Singh and Dhruv Lohumi, have taken matters into their own hands by starting a petition asking civic chief Ajoy Mehta to stop the hacking of trees.
The petition on www.change.org/p/bmc-stop-cutting-trees has already received 200 signatures and will be submitted to Mehta once it gets 100 signatures more.
“Two months ago, I was horrified to see 20 trees cut in a row. It resembled a massacre spread across a kilometre. The same area was full of strong trees which were home to several species of birds, insects and reptiles,” said Singh.
Having come across a similar sight a few weeks later when nearly 30 trees were stripped of their barks on Veera Desai Road, near the Andheri Sports Complex, Singh said, “Recently, a friend called to tell me that while heading to Yari Road she saw civic workers hacking eight trees lining the main roads.”
That’s when Lohumi and Singh decided to do something about it. The duo went to different areas in Andheri, Veera Desai Road, Juhu and other spots that had lost tree cover, took pictures and put them up on social networking websites, along with their petition. “We received a good response on our Facebook page,” said Lohumi.
Officials from the BMC’s tree authority department said many dead trees are hacked before the monsoon hits the city, and in their place twice the number of trees is planted.
Vijay Hire, garden superintendent and tree officer, said, “Around, 28 dead trees have been felled in the city and 58 plants have been planted at Andheri and Chembur.”
Lohumi, however, refuted Hire’s claims. “The BMC claims to have planted saplings, but that can be easily disproved by anyone who visits these areas,” she said.
Environmentalists have said citizen initiatives against such acts are the need of the hour.
“A move towards effective change can only happen if citizens raise their voice,” said Stalin D, an environmentalist.
“One cannot compensate for the birds, insects, reptiles, and a million other creatures that are rendered homeless when a tree is cut,” said Singh, posing a question to the authorities.
TREES HACKED THIS YEAR
In May: Residents of Willingdon Society at Santacruz had moved court against the tree authority’s permission to transplant 103 trees, which are the natural habitat of rare birds seen in the area. While they claim the civic body and the developer have ignored the petition, which is pending in court, the developer, Sumer Group, hacked 15 trees, alleging they had permissions from the authorities. On May 21, residents claimed four more trees had been felled
On May 21, there were reports of 12 trees being hacked in front of the Archaeological Survey of India’s office at Sion and five trees being felled at a busy market area at Seven Bungalows Road in Versova
In April: Versova residents reported close to 55 cases of trees being hacked in Juhu Circle, Veera Desai Road and Seven Bungalows Road over the month
In March: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had in the first two weeks of March chopped off 49 mealy bug-infected rain trees on New Link Road in DN Nagar, Andheri (West)