Locals see red over diminishing green cover at Western Railway General Manager's bungalow

While Western Railway authorities and BMC maintain that permissions were granted for trimming of trees, locals lament loss of greenery

On the way to Altamount Road, Mukesh Ambani’s Antilia dwarfs every other structure around it. One such structure is a 1925 heritage bungalow, Bombarci, belonging to the Western Railway. Over the past few days, the WR authorities claim they are carrying out beautification work on the garden of the bungalow, for which trees have been cut. However, locals claim that the trees were nearly 20 years old, and question if they had permissions to cut them.

Bombarci, the official residence of the WR General Manager. The officials claimed that around 10 trees, most of them flower bearing, were cut after taking necessary permissions. Pics/Suresh K K
Bombarci, the official residence of the WR General Manager. The officials claimed that around 10 trees, most of them flower bearing, were cut after taking necessary permissions. Pics/Suresh K K

General Manager G Agarwal stays in this bungalow. Sources said that since the start of 2016, there have been some minor works that have begun in the garden. It being a heritage Grade-I structure, renovation in the bungalow requires several rounds of permissions from various internal and external agencies, and so it has been avoided.

The sprawling garden in front of the bungalow consists of flower beds, a lawn and several trees. “At present beautification work of the plush green garden is being carried out. We are planning to install a fountain there,” said a Western Railway (WR) official.

The garden is equipped with a nursery, which produces flowering plants and they are even transported to railway stations of Mumbai, for beautification.

The officials claimed that around 10 trees, most of them flower bearing, were cut after taking necessary permissions from civic authorities. The garden has previously won the best maintained garden award contest of the BMC, which inspects all the posh bungalows in this plush locality.

However, the locals around this bungalow that has two floors claim that the trees were nearly 20 years old, and question if they have been cut without permissions.

“These trees were a pleasure to watch for all of us staying in the area. It was a mass of greenery right in front of our balconies. And then, over the past few weeks, the trees were suddenly hacked. I wonder if they have taken permissions to cut them. I have been living in this area for long and these trees are at least 20 years old,” said Randip Singh, secretary of New Navrang building that is situated next to the bungalow.

Singh alleged that the trees were cut just a few days ago possibly for renovating the garden.

When mid-day visited the bungalow on Thursday, there were a few bare stumps while few had sprouted leaves. The garden was well-maintained, the trees seemed to have been cut recently. Horticultural work was underway and a lawn was being laid.

“I have been living in this housing society for years and I could never see Pedder Road from here. Now I can see it clearly because the green cover is gone. At least two large trees and some others have been chopped off,” said Pina Kadakia, another resident of the building.

A senior citizen living in the same building lamented the loss of the green cover. “This was such a beautiful garden. I don’t know what has gotten into them. When one of us residents wants to trim a branch in our premises, it takes months to get permission from the BMC. But the Railways is given permission so easily?” she asked.

BMC speak
Amol Vasaikar, assistant superintendent of gardens, D ward said, “They had applied to us for permission to trim about 10 trees and the same has been given to them. They are quite diligent about these matters. We have not given any permission for cutting trees.”

The bungalow
>> Bombarci is the short form for Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway Company that was used to house ‘agents’ (back then heads of each railway zone) of the Britishers in 1925

>> It was built at a cost of R1,21,076 and 14 annas

>> It is located in Cumballa Hill at Altamount Road and has a carpet area of 2,680 sq.feet that is distributed among two floors

>> It accommodates four bedrooms, drawing, dining and study rooms along with a garden

>> It has teak wood flooring and rests on teak wood beams while the roof is made of Mangalore tiles

>> In 1953, an office was added inside this bungalow at a cost of Rs 2,634 and since then the General Manager of WR resides here

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