Mumbai: 25 rain trees in Andheri on the verge of death

mid-day spots 20 trees on New Link Road between Juhu JVPD signal and D N Nagar and five trees in Seven Bungalows that are infested with parasitic mealy bugs

In yet another setback for the city’s vanishing green cover, this mid-day correspondent discovered that around 20 rain trees planted on New Link Road between Juhu JVPD signal and D N Nagar, and five in Seven Bungalows, are infested with mealy bugs and appear to be on the verge of dying.

A few of the 20 trees on the New Link Road between Juhu JVPD signal and D N Nagar that have been infested by the parasitic mealy bug
A few of the 20 trees on the New Link Road between Juhu JVPD signal and D N Nagar that have been infested by the parasitic mealy bug

Locals and experts working with the BMC to save the rain trees across the city feel that the civic body must initiate action on war footing to prevent the trees from meeting a tragic end. One of the suggestions made by experts to save the trees from the bugs was to release over 2,000 ladybird beetles per infested tree, as the predatory insects feeds on aphids like mealy bugs.

They say the BMC would have been able to save plenty of trees across the city had they done this a few months ago. “The BMC is taking efforts to save the rain trees, but the scale needs to be much larger. As per our research, 2,000 beetles need to be released on each infected tree, but the civic body has been releasing only 20-25, which is hardly 1 per cent and is not enough,” said eco-warrior Kshitij Ashtekar, who is fighting hard to save rain trees in the western suburbs.

Unfulfilled promise
Soon after mid-day highlighted the issue of ailing rain trees across the city earlier this year, the BMC assured that it would dig pits around dying rain trees and release water into them so that it reaches their roots. But nothing has been done on a large scale till date. “BMC had promised that it would dig pits to water the trees. But apart from watering a few trees, the administration hasn’t done much,” said an activist.

Even the decision to purchase beetles from Pune and Bangalore was taken only after mid-day brought the issue to the fore. The beetles were purchased from the National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects (NBAII), Bangalore, and the College of Agriculture, Pune, at a cost of Rs 2 to Rs 4 per insect in April.

Official speak
Joint Municipal Commissioner S S Shinde said, “We are implementing all the necessary chemical, physical and biological measures to save the infested trees. Pesticide was sprinkled on rain trees in Bhandup and Mulund recently.”

5,000
No of rain trees across Mumbai

500
Number of rain trees which the BMC claims have been identified as bug-infested

262
Number of infected trees it claims to have saved

238
Number of rain trees that have fallen prey to bugs in the past 4-5 months, according to activists

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