The hills of Mumbai shall be green again. Birds will sing and new trees will spring up. And for once, the civic body is not dreaming this up.
Trees being planted at Chandivli Hill. The BMC’s Hill Restoration Project also aims to stop human encroachment and slums on the hills. Pic/Sameer Markande
In what must rank as one of the best green initiatives launched by a public body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has initiated a ‘Hill Restoration’ project. Over the next few months, a staggering 29,800 species including Indian banyan, Fig, Bamboo and Casurina trees will be planted on 11 different hills within city limits.
The idea, say civic officials, is to stop human encroachment and slums on these hills. Most of the hills in the city have already encroached upon by slum dwellers and it is difficult to remove them. According to data available with the BMC, there are 40 hills within Mumbai and many of them such as the Tembi Pada hill in Bhandup and the hillocks at Powai, Vikhroli and Worli, are home to several shanties.
“The trees we plant will be tall ones and will restrict encroachment,” says SS Shinde, joint municipal commissioner. “It will also help increase the green cover and prevent landslide,” he added. Early signs indicate the BMC is serious about planting the trees. The plantation drive has already started from Malabar Hill to Mulund.
A large contract for R2.5 crore, has been allotted and contracted workers are have already planted several Bamboo, Fig, Arjuna, Bakul and Banyan trees. “We will pay the workers the contracted amount, only once we confirm that the planted trees have survived and started to grow,” says Shinde.
“Officials of the BMC’s garden department are reviewing the progress regularly by visiting the hills. In fact the first of the trees were planted five months back,” said an official from the Garden department of the Eastern suburb.
Environmentalists have appreciated the move. “It is a good initiative but it should be serious attempt and not be like their yearly monsoon tree plantation, where the plants never survive,” said Sunish Subramanian, founder of the Plants and Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), an NGO.