One of the notices that was posted on a tree, only to be withdrawn later
The BMC can't get enough of its scams. After nullah desilting and road repair scam, now it appears that there could be a tree-cutting scam in the making. Residents of NB Patil Marg, Chembur, smelled a rat when they saw BMC notices posted on at least 39 trees that are allegedly on the chopping block because of planned road widening and drainage work in the lane. But here's the kicker — they have already been completed.
When NCP corporator Dr Saeeda Khan heard about the proposed tree cutting, she visited the spot and was shocked that the Chembur civic officials had granted permission to cut the trees for works that have already been carried out. She immediately set about enquiring what the works were and here's when things got really murky. The permission for chopping was revoked the next day itself.
Why hand out permission?
Following her visit, Khan feared that some irregularities were being permitted to benefit the ongoing construction work in the vicinity, so she wrote a letter to municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta and asked for the details of the proposal for tree cutting.
Speaking to mid-day, she said, "When I asked the road department official about the plan of the tree cutting and the road widening project, instead of giving me the details, he told me to speak to his seniors and hung up," adding, "After my inquiry, the next day they removed the notices from the trees. If it was legal and they were doing everything with proper permissions, then why were the notices removed?
The area has a variety of trees blooming like mango, coconut, and bamboo, most about 50 to 60 feet in height.
Resident Sanjeev Khandekar first raised the issue, when he tweeted his opposition to the move. "Hundreds of trees in my lane will be slaughtered. @bmcmumbai has slapped notices on them. This is rude, citizens must unite to stop them."
The greenery in the area is in danger as the notices popped up on trees
When mid-day contacted deputy chief engineer (eastern suburb) of road department Vivek Kalyankar, he said, "The work of road was completed without any obstruction, so now we have decided not to cut these trees."
However, when questioned on why the notices were slapped after the work was already complete, he said, "I don't know about this. I will have to check with tree officials of the ward. While doing repair of any road, we draw plans and if any tree comes in the way, then a proposal is sent to the tree authority for permission. All the follow up regarding this will have to be done by the local tree officer of the ward."