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Tree collapses, crushes 45-year-old woman to death in Mumbai

Fourth incident this year, second incident in Chembur in six months

mumbai Updated: Dec 08, 2017 10:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
MUMBAI NEWS,TREE COLLAPSE,BMC
Sharada Ghodeshwar, 45, from Chembur was killed on the spot after a tree collapsed on her on Thursday.

A 45-year-old woman was killed in Chembur around 11.20am on Thursday after a 40-foot Gulmohar tree collapsed on her. The incident raised an outcry from residents of Chembur, who blame the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for Sharada Ghodeshwar’s death.

This is the fourth incident in 2017, and the second in Chembur in the past six months, where a tree has collapsed and crushed a pedestrian to death. The BMC, which is responsible for the maintenance of trees, earned a lot of flak when in July, former Doordarshan news anchor Kanchan Nath was killed in Chembur after a coconut tree collapsed on her.

According to eyewitnesses, Ghodeshwar was sitting on a bench near a bus stop when the tree collapsed on her, killing her instantly. Passersby rushed her to the nearby Shatabdi hospital, but she was declared dead on arrival.

Shivraj Pandit from the Chembur Welfare Brigade said: “We had complained to the BMC about this tree at 10.30am on Thursday, because it had tilted dangerously. The BMC did not respond in time, and the tree collapsed within an hour.”

Soon after the incident, a team of civic officials from the garden department visited the spot to examine the collapsed tree. The team concluded that the tree was healthy on the surface, but its roots had begun to rot. The decayed roots could not bear the tree’s weight. Harshad Kale, assistant commissioner from the M-West ward, said: “There was no way to determine beforehand if the tree was going to collapse because it looked healthy on the surface. The roots had decayed. Two audits conducted by the ward before the monsoon and before the Ganesh festival did not point to any problem with this tree.”

Environmentalists, however, slammed the BMC for negligence. Zoru Bathena, an environmental activist, said: “This is not a problem of just one tree. There are several cases across the city where trees are dying because of concretisation. BMC contractors don’t leave any soil around the trees for them to breathe. It is unfortunate that a life was lost to tree collapse, but we must also question who killed the tree for it to collapse.”

According to Kale, the BMC does not have any technology to determine if tree roots are decaying. Tree audits only examine the portion above the surface. Kale intends to write to BMC chief Ajoy Mehta requesting him to commission a technology that can X-ray the underground portion of trees.

First Published: Dec 07, 2017 16:02 IST