Mumbai: Sion hospital lets rare trees breathe, demolishes concrete base around it

Three trees of a rare species known as cannonball trees are within the premises of the hospital; management is taking the help of two environmentalists for their landscaping work

As the green cover of Mumbai continues to decline, city-based environmentalists have doubled their efforts to save trees, especially the rare ones. A deciduous tree cultivated in the country after it was brought from the rainforests of South America, commonly known as cannonball tree, is facing a huge threat of extinction in the city.

Under the landscaping plan of Sion Hospital, they are removing the concrete surrounding the cannonball trees to prevent them from dying
Under the landscaping plan of Sion Hospital, they are removing the concrete surrounding the cannonball trees to prevent them from dying

Locally known as Kaliashpati, the trees near extinction has been a cause of concern for many environmentalists. Around 30 such trees exist in the city. According to eco-warriors, concrete fillings near the base of these trees are the main cause of the fatal damage to its roots.

Three of these rare trees are within the premises of Sion Hospital. In a recent announcement, the dean of the hospital, Dr Suleman Merchant, said that the management is planning to undertake landscaping project within the premises, under which the concrete base around the trees would be removed.

“We will work with two well-known environmentalists Afzal and Nusrat Khatri for the landscaping work,” he said. The demolition of concrete around the roots of these trees has already started. “We have to realise that plants and trees also have life. We are choking them with concrete, which prevents the roots from taking nourishment like air, moisture and sunlight. They eventually become weak and die.

The roots of trees need to be kept away from confines of concrete so that they can take all its nourishment from the soil,” said Afzal Khatri. Merchant said, “We have started work on Wednesday and are removing the concrete around the trees.

We are also planning to plant more trees under the landscaping project and improve the green cover of the hospital premises.” The landscaping project includes the hospital’s garden, which will soon have flowering plants.

A larger issue
The concretisation near trees is not only a problem for cannonball trees. Across the city, many trees are facing the same fate. Recently, the Green Tribunal of Pune had asked the BMC to remove the concrete surrounding trees in their jurisdiction. The National Green Tribunal in Delhi had also passed an order last year, stating that a minimum gap of one metre should be maintained between trees and any concrete structure surrounding it.

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