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Smart City footpath redesign kills 25-year-old tree in Pune

Three departments of the PMC are now passing the buck, in terms of who is responsible for the death of a 25-year-old tree and the injuries to the citizens

pune Updated: Mar 29, 2019 16:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,tree,Samrt City
The yellow flame tree on FC road collapsed due to digging carried out by civic contractors on Monday. (Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)

A Peltophorum (coppercod or yellow flame tree) collapsed on Fergusson College road on Tuesday afternoon, injuring two passersby.

Investigations by Hindustan Times reveal that the footpath in question was dug up as part of the smart street design, under the Smart City project.

Three departments of the Pune municipal corporation (PMC) are now passing the buck, in terms of who is responsible for the death of a 25-year-old tree and the injuries to the citizens.

Officials of the tree authority department say they have now issued a notice to the road contractor. The notice is issued under the Tree Preservation Act, 1975.

“We did a panchnama of the incident on Fergusson College road. Work was on for the 24/7 pipeline laying project, under the Smart city, Smart street design work,” said G R Tummale, assistant garden superintendent. He added, “They had no permission to work so close to the tree, nor did they consult the tree authority before beginning the work. The tree in question is approximately 20- to 25 years-old. The roots weakened, and it collapsed. It fell on two pedestrians, catching them unawares.”

The road department of the Pune municipal corporation (PMC), apart from not revealing the name of the contractor, is in turn, blaming work conducted by the water department for the tree collapse.

“There was a miscommunication between the two departments. We had allowed the water department to complete the pipeline laying work for the 24-hour water supply so that there will be no need to excavate again, once the footpath is ready. We had requested them to complete the work two months back. While working, they dug too close to the tree, thus weakening the roots and causing the tree to collapse,” said Dinkar Gojare, executive engineer, roads department, also in charge of street design under the Smart City project.

After the incident, the road department of PMC has issued a circular stating that no excavation should be done near the trees along the roads.

“We have instructed everyone that while working on the road, they have to leave 1.25 metres distance from the tree and then begin work and complete as per the schedule. We will also be planting additional plants to increase the green cover on the road,” said Gojare.

The tree authorities said that they would wait for the contractor’s response, failing which another notice will be sent. This will be done a third time if there is still no response, after which a court case will be filed.

First Published: Mar 29, 2019 16:31 IST