Locals alleged that MMRDA not only did a shoddy job of transplanting the trees, but also hasn't been looking after the trees. The development body denied the allegations. Pics/Nimesh Dave
Protecting the city's green cover appears to be the least of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority's priority. The development body, which was tasked with the responsibility of transplanting trees uprooted due to the Metro 2A construction, has gone ahead and done what environmentalists most feared - killed them.
During a recent visit to the plot, where the trees were transplanted, mid-day found over 25 trees lying lifeless or dead.
This comes barely two months after MMRDA had uprooted the trees to carry out Metro alignment work between Dahisar and DN Nagar. Until now, over 100-odd trees have been transplanted at a plot identified in Aarey Milk Colony.
Around 15 trees have been transplanted along the retaining wall of a nullah
Kaushal Dubey, a wildlife lover and resident of Aarey, alleged that MMRDA does not send anyone to oversee the transplantation work.
"Since February I have been observing that while the trees are being transplanted, there is no expert to guide the work. Every now and then, a dumper laden with trees comes to the site, three to four workers dig a pit, place the tree and leave," claimed Dubey.
mid-day visited the site early this morning and found more than 25 trees either lying dead, or lifeless. The roots of one of the trees were also found to be above the ground.
Further, 15 huge trees that were eight to 12-feet-long were planted near the retaining wall of a nullah, which is adjacent to the plot. "How can they plant trees along the retaining wall of the nullah? No wonder most of these trees are dead." Dubey said.
A local from the area, who did not wish to be named, also alleged that the trees weren't being watered on a regular basis. "The authorities should also see to it that the transplanted trees are watered on a daily basis or all of them will die eventually," added Dubey.
Environmental activist Biju Augustine said that any transplantation procedure should be carried out under the guidance of an expert horticulturist. "MMRDA has a bad record of not taking proper care of the transplanted trees. All the trees uprooted along the Dahisar-DN Nagar stretch will soon die if proper care isn't taken," Augustine said.
Another botanist questioned MMRDA's choice of plot to transplant the trees. "Transplantation should be carried out at a location where there is moisture in the soil. Also, the best time for such work is right before the monsoon. If transplantation work is done during the summer season, the survival rate of the trees will be far less."
When contacted, additional metropolitan commissioner Pravin Darade denied the allegations. "We are taking the best possible efforts to save the trees affected because of the Metro work. The transplantation is being done properly. I have also visited the location."
When questioned about the dried up trees, he said, "I will ask the official concerned to look into the issue and address it immediately."