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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Activists worry over THINNING GREEN COVER

 The BMC approves the felling of about 10,000 trees a year, members of its Tree Authority say. Though the civic body disputes this claim (its own figure is 2,500), environmental activists say many of its decisions to cut down trees are mindless and that its record of tree transplantation and restoration leaves a lot to be desired. 
    "Also, the basic aim of the Tree Authority (TA)—to protect trees and see to their proliferation—is hardly given any importance," said Dr Nilesh Baxi, a member of the authority. "According to me, the BMC's tree transplantation programme is a hoax. Hardly any uprooted tree survives." 
    Though the TA is a part of the BMC, its members include 10 representatives from NGOs and 20 corporators, who can counter the municipality's official take on matters. 
    Giving an example of a "mindless decision", an activist and TA member said, "Right now, there is a road widening project at Maharashi Karve Road, near Cooperage. The BMC's garden department decided to cut down 100 trees to widen the road. Luckily, due to the efforts of locals, only 26 trees will be felled. But even those can be saved. From the edge of the patch that will be concretized, these trees will be a metre away from the road. But locals' pleas have fallen on deaf ears." 
    For April alone, the BMC has allowed 183 trees to be felled for various developmental projects. Of these, 105 will be cut down by private parties, 44 by the MMRDA for its Metro project and 25 by the BMC for school building redevelopments. Many trees will go for nullah widening, and road and pipeline laying. 
    About tree transplantation, Kamalashankar Yadav, the BMC's superintendant of gardens, said the civic body in the past would plant saplings every time trees were felled. But now there is a rule to transplant trees that are up to 15-feet tall instead of using saplings, which die prematurely. Baxi said that rules apart, care is often not taken once a tree is transplanted. "After the transplant, the tree should be cared for like a baby. It requires watering for at least three months. But this doesn't happen." 
Times View 
    We understand that development is important for the city but it cannot be at the cost of the environment. There needs to be a balance between the two necessities —development and clean, fresh air—and the Tree Authority must keep this in mind while granting permission for cutting trees. Paying more attention to the proper transplantation of trees, and ensuring the transplanted trees live, can play a crucial role in maintaining this balance.


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