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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019

BMC signs Rs116-cr deal with 23 firms to maintain trees in city

Under the agreement, they will have to trim the trees, treat them for infections, remove concrete within a 1.5m radius around trunks and also remove dead trees ahead of the rains.

mumbai Updated: Jun 27, 2019 13:50 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Contractors hired by the BMC will look after 29.75 lakh trees under the civic body’s jurisdiction till March 2021.
Contractors hired by the BMC will look after 29.75 lakh trees under the civic body’s jurisdiction till March 2021.(Bachchan Kumar / HT Photo )
         

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday signed a two-year, Rs 116-crore contract with 23 firms to maintain trees in the city — in both public and private premises — ahead of the monsoon.

The newly-hired contractors will look after 29.75 lakh trees under the BMC’s jurisdiction till March 2021. Under the agreement, they will have to trim the trees, treat them for infections, remove concrete within a 1.5m radius around trunks and also remove dead trees ahead of the rains.

“The BMC has no data on the exact number of dead trees but the contractors will work on the basis of the complaints,” said Rambhau Das, deputy commissioner of the BMC’s garden department. “The estimated maintenance cost has been drafted by each ward, based on the number of trees which might need special attention.”

The contract amount translates to an average of Rs 195 per tree on a yearly basis, which activists feel is too low and will compel contractors to look for other ways to make money. Nilesh Baxi, a former independent expert on the BMC’s tree authority panel, said, “Given the rising number of falling trees and the casualties they lead to, this amount is too low. If only Rs 195 is paid for each tree on an average, obviously the contractor is not going to pay due attention to all the trees.”

Baxi said a contractor would try to make money by cutting down as many logs as possible and selling them. “The trimming of trees is done unprofessionally. While a tree needs to be trimmed from the top, the contractors trim its lower branches, causing it to gain more weight at the top and eventually collapse.”

A senior official from the BMC’s garden department, however, said not every tree in the city requires trimming or cutting down. “Action is taken based on complaints by residents. Our staff visually inspect an infected tree before it is declared dead,” he said.

The official also said the contractor, under the terms of the agreement, has to dispose of the logs at his own risk and cost.

Out of the 29.75 lakh trees in the city, as per BMC’s 2018 census, 15.63 lakh (52%) are located on private premises while 11.25 lakh are located on government premises. Apart from this, 1.85 lakh stand alongside roads and 1 lakh are within BMC gardens.

In the past six years, the BMC’s disaster management cell has received about 21,752 complaints of tree falls, in which 244 people were injured and 29 were reported to have died.

First Published: Jun 27, 2019 13:50 IST

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