5.43 crore saplings planted across Maharashtra in July, not even 1% in Mumbai
Information available on the forest department’s website revealed that a paltry 0.07% (42,516) saplings were planted during the weeklong Van Mahotsav celebrationsmumbai Updated: Aug 24, 2017 09:46 IST
Though the state has amended the Tree Act to ensure swift issuance of permissions felling trees for development projects, not even 1% of 5.43 crore saplings planted across Maharashtra during the Van Mahotsav held from July 1 to 7 found space in Mumbai.
Information available on the forest department’s website revealed that a paltry 0.07% (42,516) saplings were planted during the weeklong celebrations. It also came to the fore that the state had no tree target for the financial capital.
On Wednesday, city based NGO Watchdog Foundation filed a complaint with the union environment ministry and the state forest department to and highlighted the ‘abysmally’ low figures for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) that is home to 18 million of 110 million in Maharashtra.
“A city which has serious air pollution problems during winters needs more trees, and the state needs to focus on making Mumbai a healthier city,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee, Watchdog Foundation. “There are hundreds of school, college grounds, housing society premises, industrial areas and few open grounds where at least another 40,000 saplings could have been planted. Even road medians or road islands should have been considered.”
Forest department officials said only a small percentage of plantations are carried out by them in Mumbai, and that majority of the city’s land is belongs to the district collector, revenue department or the civic body.
“We had encouraged these agencies to carry out more plantations, but they did not take it forward,” said Jitendra Ramgaokar, deputy conservator of forest, Thane forest division.
Senior forest officials said they would need to verify the details before commenting.
“I will not be in a position to comment until I corroborate all details from forest field staff,” said P Srivastava, additional principal chief conservator of forest, information and technology, state forest department.
The Mumbai suburban collector told HT that they completed the target of planting 30,000 saplings — twice the number of they planted in 2016. “Mumbai is an urbanised district, and we do not have vacant land to plant saplings. Plots are either marked for development projects or they have been encroached upon. However, we have ensured adequate number of sapling plantations at open plots we could find along with various state bodies and the municipal corporation,” said Deependra Singh Kushwa, Mumbai suburban collector.
•5,43,35,049 – saplings planted across the state between July 1 – 7 (state wide tree plantation drive by forest department)
•42,516 – saplings planted in Mumbai (0.07% of plantations in state)
•12,167 – saplings planted in Mumbai city
The data revealed that in Mumbai city 4,037 saplings were planted in non-forest areas, 7,110 saplings planted by individuals by registering themselves on the forest department’s helpline and another 1,020 through offline registrations.
•30,349 – saplings planted in Mumbai suburban
For Mumbai suburbs, 500 saplings were planted by the forest department, 14,411 saplings were planted in non-forest areas, 125 through registrations on the department’s helpline and 13,212 offline registrations.
‘Ample space for plantations in Mumbai’
NGO Watchdog Foundation identified locations such as - open areas adjoining Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), Vihar Lake, Kanjur, Vikhroli, Mulund, Gorai, Madh Island, Erangal, Aksa, Powai, Mumbai Port Trust Land, eastern water front from Sewri to Trombay, Navy Nagar, Colaba, Ghatkopar hills, Powai, Dahisar, Lokhandwala, Oshiwara and Malad (West), where these plantations could be done.
According to data from NGO Praja Foundation, there were 35.98 lakh trees in the city, against 19.17 lakh in 2008, when the last tree census was carried out. But the number of trees per person is at a low 0.28.
First Published: Aug 24, 2017 09:46 IST