Tree falls kill 3 in Mumbai since June; complaints to BMC almost double
Between Sunday and Monday (8.30am to 8.30am) itself, 21 tree-fall complaints were registered with the BMC’s disaster managementmumbai Updated: Jul 25, 2017 00:46 IST
Three people have lost their lives in the past two months to tree-fall incidents across the city and the number of complaints in the past two months has nearly doubled over last year. With the video of a coconut tree falling on 57-year-old Kanchan Nath, a yoga teacher and a former television anchor on Doordarshan, in Chembur last week going viral, questions are now being raised over the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) tree-pruning exercise.
Between June 1 and July 24, the civic body has received 1,404 tree-fall complaints as against the 1,700 such complaints it had received from June to September in 2016.
While most trees have got uprooted in the western suburbs (701), followed by the island city (354) and the eastern suburbs (349), June witnessed 822 incidents as against 582 in July so far.
Between Sunday and Monday (8.30am to 8.30am) itself, 21 tree-fall complaints were registered with the BMC’s disaster management.
Activists and experts blame increased concretisation at the root of trees and haphazard trimming and pruning for the falls. Stalin D, an environment activist, said there should be guidelines for tree-trimming. “The increased amount of cement and concrete at the base is making the trees weaker. A study needs to be conducted. Also, tree-pruning is a specialised job, which should not be given to contractors,” he said.
According to officials, every ward has 2 to 3 junior tree officers, a horticulture assistant and a superintendent of gardens, depending on the size of the ward. The junior tree officer let the contractors know if a tree has to be trimmed or uprooted, depending on the road on which it stands, the height of the tree and the number of branches it has.
However, officials agree that there is no fixed methodology behind the exercise and it is largely based on the tree officer’s perception. In case of public roads, tree officers take rounds to check trees and in case of private roads, they act on complaints.
According to BMC officials, close to 64,000 trees were pruned before the monsoon this year. In its 2017-18 budget, the BMC allocated Rs30 crore for tree-pruning exercise, 50% of which is spent before the monsoon, said officials.
In case of the Chembur incident, while the victim’s husband, Rajat Nath, has demanded that an FIR be filed against Deepali Kaur, the horticultural assistant of M/West ward of BMC, a civic official, on the condition of anonymity, pointed out that there can’t be trimming exercise carried out on a coconut tree. “The tree was on private property. The BMC cannot be blamed for everything. It was an accident.”