Aarey tree cutting row: BMC tree panel split wide open; 2 experts resign

The panel had given its nod for felling 2,646 trees – 2,185 to be cut and 461 to be transplanted – in a meeting on Thursday, when of the 18 members, eight voted for the proposal, six voted against it, two abstained and two were absent.
Citizens hold a protest march at Aarey Milk Colony on Saturday against the decision to cut trees for the Metro-3 project.(HT Photo)
Citizens hold a protest march at Aarey Milk Colony on Saturday against the decision to cut trees for the Metro-3 project.(HT Photo)
Updated on Sep 01, 2019 03:44 AM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By, Mumbai

Two experts from the civic body’s 18-member tree authority resigned on Saturday, as the row over the panel’s approval to cut 2,185 trees at Aarey Colony for constructing the Metro-3 car shed further escalated.

The tree authority comprises five external experts and corporators from the BJP (4), Shiv Sena (6), Congress (2) and NCP (1).

The panel had given its nod for felling 2,646 trees – 2,185 to be cut and 461 to be transplanted – in a meeting on Thursday, when of the 18 members, eight voted for the proposal, six voted against it, two abstained and two were absent.

However, on Friday, two of the three experts, who had voted in favour of cutting the trees, said they were not aware that their vote was for approving the proposal. The remaining two experts were not present at the meeting.

While Shashirekha Sureshkumar, associate professor and head of department of botany, Mithibai College, said the process to approve tree felling was wrong and she was confused about the meeting’s proceedings as they happened in Marathi, Chandrakant Salunkhe, scientist from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, said the entire process was rushed. Both said they had sent their resignations to the BMC’s garden superintendent, other officers, and committee members on Saturday morning.

HT has a copy of Sureshkumar’s resignation while Salunkhe refused to share a copy of his letter. “Since the time of my nomination to the committee, no due process has been followed for the assessment of the site and decisions have been taken in haste. As an expert, I have been allowed to visit some limited portions of the site in question, only twice, which is not sufficient time to make a decision regarding such an issue,” read Sureshkumar’s resignation letter.

“Most of our recommendations on the issue have not been considered by the committee while making the decision. I wish to clearly and strongly state that I have never recommended the felling of 2,700 trees and I do not endorse the decision in any way.”

Salunkhe, meanwhile, said the only way left for them to redeem themselves of accusations (of bribery by political parties) was to resign. “In our report, nowhere is it mentioned that we are supporting tree cutting. The project happening or not is not our purview; our expertise is towards how best we can maintain the green cover and that is our mandate. The entire voting process was politically charged, and we cannot handle such a situation. We are academic and scientific people who do not need to spend time in this toxic environment,” he said.

Meanwhile, another expert member Subhash Patne, BSC in agriculture, who said he was satisfied with Thursday’s voting process, said he will be filing a case against Shiv Sena members who alleged expert members were bribed into voting for tree felling.

The two expert members who were not present at the meeting were Manohar Sawant, PhD physical chemistry, and Deepak Apte, director, Bombay Natural History Society.


    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Noor Ahmad says he arrived in Delhi two years ago with his ‘mama’ (uncle) who lives nearby, in Darya Ganj.

    Delhiwale: Portrait of a childhood

    Noor Ahmad is just 14. More astonishing is the fact that despite being so young, he lives far from his family. Noor Ahmad explains that “when one doesn't have much money at home, then one has to go to distant places to earn money”. At night, he eats out in an eatery. While discussing his inability to attend school, Noor Ahmad remarks that he is not able to read English.

  • The allegations are of allegedly making appointments at Haryana State Warehousing Corporation in an illegal and arbitrary manner when senior Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka served as its MD. (File photo)

    Khemka approaches HC seeking quashing of FIR

    Senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka has approached the Punjab and Haryana high court seeking quashing of an FIR registered in Panchkula under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Senior advocate RS Cheema is likely to appear for the IAS officer. The FIR was registered on the complaint of Haryana State Warehousing Corporation, managing director, Sanjeev Verma, on April 26 at Sector-5 police station in Panchkula. Verma, too, was booked on a complaint from Khemka.

  • As per the notification issued by the ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute’s regional centre in Karnal, the lot of this variety sold between February 25 and April 4 this year, which had the germination capacity above the fixed 80%, has been recalled as there is a possibility of decline in the germination. (AP file photo)

    Karnal: Basmati seeds recalled over poor germination

    Amid complaints of poor germination, ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute's regional centre in Karnal has recalled the seeds of Pusa Basmati 1509 variety of rice it sold to farmers. The quantity of seeds sold during this period was not disclosed, but it is said that it cost 80/kg. Officials have asked the farmers, who had bought the seeds during this period from here, to contact them by May 21 along with the receipt and seeds.

  • National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel clear the charred debris from a burnt floor a day after a fire broke out in a commercial building at Mundka, New Delhi. (HT PHOTO.)

    Delhi Mundka fire: Building, factory owners to be quizzed; DNA samples taken

    The Delhi Police on Monday said that they will seek the custody of the two businessmen who were running an industrial unit in a Mundka building where a devastating fire killed 27 people on Friday in order to question them along with the owner of the building. The Goyal brothers were arrested on Friday, and the owner, Manish Lakra was arrested on Sunday.

  • A case was registered against 11 identified persons under sections 148, 149, 323, 307, 302 and 506 of the IPC. (Image for representational purpose)

    Attack by rival group: Three bodies fished out of Yamunanagar canal

    A day after 10 persons had jumped into Western Yamuna Canal in Buria region of Yamunanagar after allegedly being threatened by a rival group, a team of the national disaster response force (NDRF) on Monday recovered three bodies. The deceased were identified as Nikhil, Sahil and Suleman, while Allaudin and Sunny are still missing, superintendent of police Kamaldeep Goyal said. All of them were between 18 and 22 years of age and residents of Jagadhri.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, May 17, 2022