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Three tree-fall deaths in Mumbai over 24 hours

Three people were killed in tree-fall accidents at Malad, Andheri and Govandi over 24 hours. The rain-related deaths come even before the monsoon has fully set in.

mumbai Updated: Jun 15, 2019 00:47 IST
Sagar Pillai
Sagar Pillai
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Mumbai monsoon,tree fall deaths
The spot in Malad where Shailesh Rathod died after the branch of a tree collapsed early on Friday.(Satyabrata Tripathy/HT Photo)

Three people were killed in tree-fall accidents at Malad, Andheri and Govandi over 24 hours. The rain-related deaths come even before the monsoon has fully set in.

A 38-year-old Malad resident, Shailesh Rathod, died after a branch of a gulmohar tree fell on him while he was on his way to a temple on Friday morning. At Andheri, 48-year-old Anil Ghosalkar died after a branch fell on him inside a housing society on Thursday evening.

The third incident took place at Govandi’s Anushakti Nagar, inside the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) township in Govandi on Friday, around 5.30pm. The BMC’s disaster management department said Nitin Vishnu Shiravale, 43, a BARC staff, died after a branch fell on him. Shiravale was riding a bike and was heading home when the tree fell on him. He was taken to the BARC hospital where he was declared dead.

Before the rains, the civic body is supposed to trim trees and branches as part of its pre-monsoon work to prevent such accidents. However, in all three cases, civic officials sought to shift the blame saying the trees were inside private premises.

The Malad incident took place around 6.30am on Friday, at the Nadiadwala Colony road, off SV Road. Rathod’s relatives said he visited the nearby Jain temple every morning with his father.

The area’s corporator and residents blamed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the incident, and said they had complained to the civic body several times to trim the tree.

“Rathod was walking towards the temple. He was carrying an umbrella as it was raining,” an eyewitness, who runs a shop on the route, said. “It was not windy at all at the time of the incident. Rathod’s view must have been blocked by the umbrella so he could not gauge when the branch came crashing down,” the shop-owner said.

Rathod is survived by his parents, wife and two daughters. He was employed with a private firm in BKC. “He was the family’s only earning member. His parents are old and live on rent. Our entire family is in shock and we do not know whom to hold responsible,” said Snehal Poonamiya, one of Rathod’s relatives.

Rathod’s neighbours said they had approached the local ward office several times, asking them to trim the tree.

Yogita Kohli, the local BJP corporator, said the BMC was “solely responsible” for the incident. “The residents and I have repeatedly sent complaints to the ward office about trimming the tree. A part of this tree is also leaning on a nearby ground-plus-one residential structure, whose residents have also complained. What is the BMC waiting for?”

A senior ward official, however, responded saying, “According to the information we have, the tree falls under private premises. We are investigating the matter and have informed the garden department.”

The incident at Andheri took place on Thursday, when Ghosalkar, a driver, was sitting inside the Takshila housing society compound with his friend. “The friend managed to escape unhurt, but Ghosalkar had to be taken to the nearby Holy Spirit hospital. He died of his injuries on Friday,” said Anant Nar, the Shiv Sena corporator from the area. Nar said Ghosalkar was a resident of the nearby Ganesh Nagar and worked as a driver at the housing society.

Ghosalkar is survived by his wife, a daughter who studies in SNDT college, and a son, who is in Class 8.

In the Andheri case, too, civic officials blamed the housing society. “The local ward office had issued the housing society a notice in April, as it was observed that some trees needed to be cut, and others required trimming,” a civic official told HT.

The BARC employee, Shiravale, is survived by his wife and two daughters. In this case too, a senior civic official said permission was given to BARC to trim trees in their colony, but it had not been done.

“BARC applied to us on April 23, for pruning overgrown and dangerous trees within the township. Permission was given and they were asked to inform the ward office after completion,” the senior civic official said. “However, the required trimming of trees was not taken up.”

First Published: Jun 15, 2019 00:33 IST