BMC delays trimming, Vidhan Bhavan staffer crushed under tree

The 49-yr-old employee was stepping out to meet his brother when tree branches fell on him; he succumbed to head injuries

Raghunath Shivram Angre had passed under the shade of a massive 45-year-old tree— and perhaps even taken comfort under it — at the entrance of Vidhan Bhavan in south Mumbai hundreds of times. Thursday was no different. The 49-year-old employee with the Speaker’s office at the state legislature was stepping out of the gates to meet his brother, waiting outside, in the morning when some branches of the tree fell on him. He died of his injuries late at night.

Following Raghunath Shivram Angre’s (below) death, the BMC ordered the trimming of all trees in Vidhan Bhavan’s vicinity. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
Following Raghunath Shivram Angre’s (below) death, the BMC ordered the trimming of all trees in Vidhan Bhavan’s vicinity. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

The tree’s annual trimming was due, but the BMC had delayed it while prioritising the cutting of branches of trees lining the city’s busy roads.

Raghunath was rushed to St George Hospital in Fort following the mishap, where he was diagnosed with severe head injuries. A doctor who treated him said Raghunath had also sustained multiple wounds in the neck, head and hands. “The patient needed an immediate CT scan to identify any blood clot in the brain, but in absence of such a service, he was transferred to JJ Hospital for better treatment.” At JJ Hospital, though, Raghunath succumbed to the injuries around 10.30 pm.

Dilip Angre, Raghunath’s brother, who was waiting outside the gates on Thursday, said he was drawn to the entrance after he heard a loud thud. “I found my brother there, grievously injured and bleeding profusely.”

The family is yet to tell the Angres’ 72-year-old mother of Raghunath’s death; all she knows is that her son had sustained grievous injuries. “She wouldn’t be able to take the shock of his death,” feared Dilip.

Raghunath is survived by his wife and their son, a Std IX student. His final rites were conducted yesterday.

When mid-day contacted Anant Kalse, principal secretary of the state legislature, he said he was out of town and had no knowledge of the mishap.

Trimming was due
Although the tree had not been listed as ‘dangerous’, it needed an annual trimming by the BMC, along with around 40 others near Vidhan Bhavan, prior to the onset of the monsoon. This year’s trimming was pending.

It turns out that civic officials had prioritised the trimming of roadside trees. The trees on the premises of government establishments, therefore, took a backseat. “From June-July every year, we cut the branches of overgrown trees.
Our main priority was to cut trees on roadsides, which see a larger population. After finishing up trees on the roads, we would have taken up trees in the vicinity of Vidhan Bhavan,” said Tushar Shinde from BMC’s gardens department.

Following the tree fall, the BMC immediately began trimming the branches of trees in the legislature’s vicinity.

Past mishap
A Vidhan Bhavan security personnel claimed that the tree fall was the first such in the area. But on July 18, 2011, a six-month-old girl and her 25-year-old mother died after a tree collapsed on them near Vidhan Bhavan. The tree fall had come on the heels of a continuous spell of rain.

CT scan equipment not mandatory
Asked why the state-run St George Hospital doesn’t have CT scan equipment, Dr TP Lahane, dean of JJ Hospital, said all healthcare facilities are not mandated to offer this service. However, since St George Hospital sees a high inflow of patients every day, the need to procure this equipment has only grown.

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