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Sunday, August 3, 2014

53 trees fell in 24 hrs due to rain last week, activists blame BMC




Last Wednesday turned out to be one of the worst days for Mumbai's green cover, with 53 big trees falling in a matter of 24 hours even as heavy downpour lashed the city.

Besides, the city loses an average of 15-20 trees every day. Experts blamed the civic body for the alarming rate at which trees are uprooted here, pointing out poor maintenance and the fact that the authorities did not give trees enough space to spread their roots by concretizing everything around it. Weak trees crashing down are also a threat to residents. On July 30, a 32-year-old man, Santosh Pande, died when a tree collapsed on him at Jogeshwari (E), where he had halted his bike to answer his cellphone.

He died on the spot.

"Trees these days are tilting and falling because they have no place to grow. With the authorities concretizing and

putting paver blocks really close to the roots, there is absolutely no space for the roots to spread themselves. It is important that at least one-metre area be left free around a tree.

But since that never happens, trees grow weak at the roots and fall. It is unfortunate that someone died because of that," said Stalin Dayanand, environmentalist and project director of NGO Vanashakti.

Sunish Subramanian,

founder of Plants and Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), has a different view. "Many a time, developers deliberately damage the roots by pouring chemicals so that trees wither away after a few weeks. That way , they can clear the path for their parking lot or compound or entrance to a building," said Subramanian. He added that the BMC did plant thousands of saplings in the monsoon but no one knew about their survival rates. "No one knows what happens to that tree that have been planted or transplanted," he added.

Joint municipal commissioner S S Shinde, who is in charge of the gardens department, however, claimed that the BMC trimmed tree branches to avoid collapses.

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