939 trees collapsed in Mumbai this year, but BMC has no idea how to prevent them: Activists | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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939 trees collapsed in Mumbai this year, but BMC has no idea how to prevent them: Activists

BMC says not much can be done about concretisation and haphazard tree pruning, both of which cause tree collapses, according to environmentalists

mumbai Updated: Dec 09, 2017 14:20 IST
Eeshanpriya MS
Eeshanpriya MS
Hindustan Times
tree collapse,BMC,Mumbai civic body
The 40-foot-tall gulmohar tree that crushed Chembur (East) resident Sharda Ghodeshwar on Thursday.(HT)

A day after Chembur (East) resident Sharda Ghodeshwar, 45, was crushed by a 40-foot-tall gulmohar tree, activists have criticised the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), saying it has no idea how to prevent tree collapses.

Data from the BMC's disaster management department revealed that 939 trees collapsed this year, killing four. However, civic officials have termed these 'isolated accidents',saying not much can be done about concretisation and haphazard tree pruning — both of which lead to tree collapses, according to environmentalists — as they are a common feature of urban areas.

The civic body's primary investigation revealed that the roots of the tree that fell on Ghodeshwar had decayed. “The BMC does not know why trees are collapsing, so we cannot have a policy-level decision on how to prevent this. The civic body obviously does not want more lives to be lost, but we neither have the technique nor the expertise to determine why so many trees are falling. I have asked my department to submit a report on the cause of Thursday's tree collapse. Then we will see,” said Vijay Singhal, additional municipal commissioner incharge of the garden department.

However, the BMC has not yet set up an official inquiry to determine the cause of Thursday's tree collapse.

Harshad Kale, assistant commissioner, M West ward, where the tree collapsed, said it appeared to be healthy. “There was no way for garden department officials to determine if its roots had decayed. When the BMC examines a tree, we look at the portion above the ground. We do not have the technology to examine the roots,” he said.

According to Stalin Dayanand, director, NGO Vanashakti, auditing a tree by its visual appearance is a flawed method of determining its health, as it undermines the role played by roots.

Leader of the opposition in the BMC, Ravi Raja, demanded that the civic body appoint one botanist in each ward, who can make an informed judgement on the health of its trees.

First Published: Dec 09, 2017 14:20 IST