G-20 meet: Environmentalists blow fuse over BMC move to light up 15,000 trees | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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G-20 meet: Environmentalists blow fuse over BMC move to light up 15,000 trees

By, Mumbai
May 06, 2023 12:32 AM IST

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's decision to install LED lights in 15,000 trees on five roads, in preparation for G-20 delegates, has sparked outrage among environmentalists who claim the fittings will harm the trees and disturb nocturnal birds. However, municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said the lights had a near-zero LUX level and did not emit heat. The G-20 Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group is meeting in the city from 23 to 25 May.

While the city is gearing up to host G-20 delegates later this month, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) decision to illuminate trees on the routes the dignitaries will take from the airport has sparked outrage among environmentalists.

Mumbai, India - December 15, 2022: Green curtains put up to conceal the view of Jogeshwari slums on Western Express Highway, in wake of the ongoing G20 Summit under Indian presidency, in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, December 15, 2022. (Photo by Vijay Bate/HT Photo) (HT PHOTO)
Mumbai, India - December 15, 2022: Green curtains put up to conceal the view of Jogeshwari slums on Western Express Highway, in wake of the ongoing G20 Summit under Indian presidency, in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, December 15, 2022. (Photo by Vijay Bate/HT Photo) (HT PHOTO)

The second meeting of the G-20 Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group will be held in the city from May 23 to 25.

Last week, municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal reviewed the preparations and directed the departments to complete the related works on time. As part of a beautification plan, the civic body has issued a tender to permanently install LED lights in nearly 15,000 trees on five roads – from the airport to Taj Hotel, BKC, Taj Lands End, Juhu beach, and Worli.

“We want Mumbai to look better. The issue of illuminating 15,000 trees on five important roads was discussed with higher authorities. We took presentations from companies. Instead of taking the lights on rent, we will purchase them and maintain them so that they can be permanently on our trees,” Chahal said.

The G-20 disaster group had had their first meeting in the city in January, and at that time, the BMC had conducted a beautification drive.

Environmentalists and activists have claimed that electrical fittings will harm trees.

Kaustubh Bhagat, a professor in environmental studies, said, “When one installs lights on trees, they emit heat, and this is harmful. In many wedding venues, trees are lit up as well. This is not allowed as per the Maharashtra Trees Act.’’

However, Chahal said these LED lights have a near zero LUX level (a standardised unit of measurement of light level intensity) and don’t emit heat. “They will consume very less electricity as well.”

D Stalin from NGO Vanshakti said, “Trees are nesting and resting sites for birds and lights are disturbing to them; nocturnal birds like owls would get disoriented. This must be avoided. It is unfortunate that people who come to discuss environment and social issues are missing this important point.”

A horticultural assistant from the BMC said nails would be used to fix lights on trees.

The issue of Mumbai beautification was recently discussed with chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, and the latter pointed to the media criticism on nails being drilled in trees ahead of the G-20 members’ visit to Nagpur in March, sources at Mantralaya said.

More than 120 G-20 delegates are expected to attend the three-day event in the city. On the sidelines of this meeting, representatives of the working group are expected to visit the BMC headquarters and inspect the control room of the disaster management department. Chahal is likely to hold another review meeting next week.

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