The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to take action on the issue of dying rain trees in Mumbai. Taking note of the suggestions made by Accenture software engineer Kshitij Ashtekar’s findings on how about half of the rain trees in the western suburbs were either dying or were dead already for lack of water and other reasons, the authorities have decided to dig water pits around the trees alongside the roads.
Additional Municipal Commissioner S S Shinde said that the pits dug around trees would be watered regularly. Pesticides would also be sprayed to tackle fungal and bacterial attacks. Illustrations/Amit Bandre
MiD DAY had carried Ashtekar’s findings (‘MNC manager gets to the root of dying trees’, February 11), which had raised several pertinent issues (see box) about the rain trees that provide the largest portion of green cover in the city. One of the key insights was that of the 611 trees along arterial roads, surveyed independently by the senior engineer, most trees lining concrete roads were dying (or were dead) because concrete doesn’t allow water to seep through and reach the roots.
Acting on this, Additional Municipal Commissioner S S Shinde, also in charge of the Gardens Department, has instructed the concerned officials to immediately start taking measures. He said, “First we will clean the area near the bark of the trees. Then, around it we will dig a circular pit and water the trees at regular intervals.”
The report had also found that several trees were infected with fungus, bacteria, and with pests such as mealy bugs and amphids. Shinde told MiD DAY he would ensure regular spraying of pesticides to combat fungal and bacterial attacks.
When told about the action taken based on his suggestions, Ashtekar said, “The dying trees are a serious issue and I’m glad the BMC has decided to look into the issue. We will be able to save them if proper follow-ups are done.” “I have asked the authorities to carry out follow-ups as well,” assured Shinde.
Number of infected trees
Number of dead trees
Why the trees were dying
>> Concrete doesn’t allow water to seep through to their roots
>> Fungal and bacterial infections
>> Heavy construction activity with deep excavations, causing collection of water filled with cement particles