Mumbai: Central Railway cuts down trees near Thane station, claims it was for passenger's safety

Nov 10, 2017, 09:34 IST | Rajendra B. Aklekar

Civic body sends notice to railways for hacking down three fully-grown bottle palm trees near Thane station's platform 1; latter claims it was for passenger safety

With so much smog in the air and so less green on the ground, this is definitely worrying news - the Central Railway (CR) hacking three fully-grown bottle palm trees opposite Thane station's platform 1. And the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) too isn't happy about it. On Wednesday, it slapped notice on CR for its action, done without permission.

Three fully-grown bottle palm trees opposite platform 1 at Thane station were hacked down by Central Railway officials
Three fully-grown bottle palm trees opposite platform 1 at Thane station were hacked down by Central Railway officials

'Illegal act'
A senior TMC official said, "The trees were hacked without permission from TMC's Tree Authority. Hence, we were forced to issue a notice, to Thane's station manager. They were fully grown and brought down in such a ruthless manner. We have given them 24 hours to get back to us with an explanation in writing for their action."

The notice, a copy of which is with mid-day, states that as per section 8 (1) of the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, no tree owner is allowed to hack fully-grown, live trees without permission from the Tree Authority, irrespective of the reason. There is a fine or jail for violation of this rule.

"We conducted a panchnama at the site and found that the trees were hacked without permission. This is an illegal act," a member of TMC's Tree Authority, Rahul Londhe, told mid-day. Thane station is currently in the middle of an upgrade with construction of several foot overbridges and passenger amenities underway.

Railway's defence
While railway officials refused to speak on record, CR's chief public relations officer said, "[It was done for] passenger safety… [it] is paramount. We will compensate by planting a huge number of trees on available land near Thane."

Officials added that the trees had been hacked because they were standing between two operational tracks and colliding with the overhead wires and related infrastructure, which could disrupt services and pose a safety risk.

"The railways removed only those trees that posed a risk, as these were standing between two tracks close to the wires and running trains. There was also a risk to commuters, and hence, we couldn't wait for permission, as train services run for 24 hours, and any incident can have wide repercussions," a divisional railway official said.

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