Linking Road in Bandra, one of the city’s shopping hot spots, is probably not a good place to plant trees.
For the past five months, the civic staff has been planting and re-planting saplings on the pavement only to find that they were either burnt or poisoned.
Two weeks ago, the gardens department of the civic body’s H-west ward replanted a tree sapling on Linking Road as part of its tree plantation drive launched earlier this year. However, a week later, the sapling had died, which activists claim has become a regular problem in the area.
“Owners of prime showrooms at the stretch poison, hack or burn saplings, fearing the trees would block their display windows,” alleged Aftab Siddiqui, chairperson, 33rd Road ALM (advanced locality management), who helped the ward office organise the drive.
The ward’s gardens department lodged a police complaint against some of the showrooms on the avenue at Khar police station. “Even a month after the complaint was registered, no action has been taken,” said Ameet Satam, member, BMC’s tree authority. “Poisoning planted trees should be made a legal offence.”
According to H-west ward data, 15 trees were planted along the Linking Road stretch, extending from 33rd Road up to Santacruz, and 45 planted along SV Road up to Khar police station.
“Approximately 20% of the tree saplings have been killed,” said an official from the ward’s gardens department.
Shop owners refuted the allegations. “They are planted on the main road. The saplings died a natural death,” claimed a shop owner requesting anonymity.
Activist Rishi Agarwal said the BMC was “fundamentally wrong” in planting tree saplings on this stretch. “Civic authorities should have involved shop owners while planting saplings outside their showrooms,” he said, adding shop owners paid hefty rents for the show rooms.
Advanced locality managements (ALM) in the area have offered to help tackle the problem. “We have asked ward officers to map all the tree saplings and hand it over to the concerned ALMs,” said Siddiqui.
“We are ready to work in association with the civic authorities to retain the green cover in the area,” said Anandini Thakoor, chairperson, H-west federation.