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Monday, July 18, 2011

Tree was mall’s responsibility: BMC

Victims' Family Blames The Civic Authority For Negligence And Plans To File A Case; Others Call Its Attitude 'Lackadaisical'


Mumbai: Sitting in one corner of a room in his residence in a white kurta and pyjama, Narendra Bhansali (26) mourns the death of his wife Manisha and sixmonth-old baby Aarvi. He stares at the ceiling and has not spoken since. "He is in shock and hasn't even cried," said uncle Peer Chand Bhansali on Monday. 
    Narendra was just few metres away when he saw the tree fall on Manisha and Aarvi outside the CR-II mall in Nariman Point. They had gone to watch a new movie, but decided to return when the tickets were unavailable. Few of his friends were with Manisha when the incident occurred. They managed to pull out Aarvi and take her to GT Hospital. 
    "BMC is responsible for this death. We lost them just due to their negligence," said Anil Mehta, a relative. The family plans to file a case and demand compensation for the loss. 
    MLA Annie Shekhar and corporator Vinod Shekhar visited the family in the evening. BMC, though, denies that it has anything to do with the accident. "The tree was in the mall premises. We have asked tree experts to give us a report of what went wrong. Accordingly, we will see if we can initiate proceedings against the mall. We carry out pruning regularly, and will now conduct an inspection of unhealthy trees," said Suhas Karavande, deputy municipal commissioner (gar
dens). "In this case, it was the mall's responsibility to prune the tree, which it didn't. If they had given us an application, we would have given them permission to trim the tree," he added. 
    A team of experts saw that the tree had been pruned only from one side. "There were paver blocks around the tree, because of which there was no space for water to percolate. The roots became weak. A lot of concretization has been carried out around the tree," said tree authority member Niranjan Shetty. "The laying of underground utilities also spoiled the root structure and weakened it." 
    Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta said, "We have taken stock of the situation. Experts have also visited the site and protocols will be issued to all the concerned departments so that adequate care 
is taken when development takes place around trees. In this case, a lot of concretization had taken place which curbed the growth of the root," said Gupta. 
    Meanwhile, the corporate communications department of the CR-II mall said that the area in which the tree stood is public land. "It is BMC's duty to prune it," the spokesperson said. 

Times View 
Innocent lives are being lost due to negligence and apathy on the part of private agencies as well as BMC. The callousness of both the parties is inexcusable. Primarily, it is the civic body's duty to ensure that trees are pruned regularly. Even if the tree is in private premises, it cannot be an excuse for BMC to not take note or initiate proceedings against the owners. Junior engineers (trees) of every ward should take rounds in the area throughout the year to check the status of trees. Housing societies and private agencies too should not be careless.

BRUTAL FATE: (Above) The site where Manisha Bhansali and her six-month-old baby Aarvi were killed when a tree came crashing down. (Below) Nephew Mayur shows the last photo of the Bhansali family, which he clicked on his cellphone

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