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Your commute will get greener: 8,000 saplings will be planted along Mumbai’s railways

‘Green Maharashtra’ is what forest officials aim to achieve through the plantation drives

mumbai Updated: Apr 24, 2017 13:42 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai railways,plantation drive,Sudhir Mungantiwar
The move comes a day after the railways and state forest department signed an MOU to plant 60,000 tree plantings across railway tracks in Maharashtra.(HT File Photo)

Good news for commuters who travel by Mumbai’s local trains — the view from your window seat will no longer be an eyesore. The railways and state forest department plan to plant 8,000 saplings along the western, central and harbour lines this year.

While 5,000 saplings will be planted along the central and harbour line, the western line will get 3,000 saplings before monsoon begins, officials told HT.

The move comes a day after the railways and state forest department signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to plant 60,000 tree plantings across railway tracks in Maharashtra. The efforts are part of the forest department’s commitment to plant 4 crore saplings between July 1 and July 7 this year.

Forest officials said the agreement was a significant step towards achieving a ‘green Maharashtra’.

“Large-scale forest and non- forest plantation is necessary to increase the state’s forest cover from 20% to 33%,” said forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar. “We are trying to increase the state’s forest cover through public participation. We value the railway department’s support,” he added.

In June 2016, Mungantiwar met railway minister Suresh Prabhu, seeking that land around the state’s railway be freed up so trees could be planted there. Prabhu agreed.

Look out for green zones near you
  • 60,000 saplings along railway lines across the state
  • 8,000 saplings along Mumbai’s suburban railway
  • 5,000 saplings along central and harbour lines
  • 1,500 saplings from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Thane and Chembur
  • 3,500 saplings from Mumbra, Diva all the way to Kalyan on the central line
  • 3,000 saplings along the western line
  • 800 saplings from Churchgate to Borivli
  • 2,200 saplings between Virar and Dahanu

Last year, however, the railways was not part of the record-breaking 2.83 crore saplings planted across the state. As many as 85% of these trees survived. The plantation drive was acknowledged by the Limca Book of Records.

This year, railway officials said the least number of saplings will be planted in Mumbai city owing to a lack of space. The most number of trees will be planted in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. “We have identified a few locations between Churchgate and Borivli, where 700 to 800 saplings will be planted. The majority of saplings — about 2,200 — will be planted between Virar and Dahanu,” said Ravinder Bhakar, chief public relations officer, Western Railway.

“Retired railway officials have been growing vegetables on small patches in central parts of Mumbai for a long time. We will plant saplings in these areas and ensure that railway lines from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Thane and CST to Chembur get more than 1,500 saplings,” said Narendra Patil, CPRO, Central Railways.

“Since the stretch from Mankhurd to Panvel on the harbour line and Mumbra, Diva all the way to Kalyan on the central line has more open spaces, 3,500 saplings will be planted there,” he added.

Both officials said they would go about the plantation process carefully. “We will ensure that the majority of the saplings are planted before the monsoon season. We will not plant saplings too close to the tracks. Our ground staff will nurture these plants. We plant to undertake a garbage clean-up drive before we start plantations,” said Patil.

Environmentalists, however, were sceptical about the survival rate of the saplings. “The plantation drive is aimless as railways will want to expand their tracks in the future and the saplings will die,” said Stalin D, project director, NGO Vanashakti. “Trees need to be planted at areas that will be cordoned off forever,” he said.

He said several large Gulmohar and Peltoforum trees were planted along a stretch from central to south Mumbai along railway lines a decade ago. However, they were all axed to make way for the expansion of railway tracks or the creation of small food farms.

First Published: Apr 24, 2017 13:39 IST