It is not just the common trees in the city that face the axe, but even the uncommon ones are at risk. It has been discovered that a rare Baobab tree, whose numbers are less than 40 in the city, might be brought down to make way for a cemetery on the road connecting Aarey to Marol.

A huge chunk of the bark (circled) can be seen hanging from the tree, which gives an impression of sabotage. Pic/Kaushik Thanekar
A huge chunk of the bark can be seen hanging from the tree, which gives an impression of sabotage. Pic/Kaushik Thanekar

The tree was supposed to get a heritage status. When this correspondent visited Aarey Milk Colony on Monday, he discovered that the Baobab tree had been sabotaged. A huge portion of bark has started to peel off, indicating that the tree is being targeted so that it withers and dies in the coming days.

Speaking to mid-day, Niranjan Shetty, member of Tree Authority, said, “Very few rare species of trees are left in Mumbai, including Baobab. I have already called the K-East ward office, under whose jurisdiction the Marol side of Aarey falls, and have instructed the officer to see to it that strict action is taken against those trying to harm the tree.

We aren’t opposing any kind of development, but it should not be at the cost of rare trees.” Less than 40 Baobab trees are left in the city and can be spotted near Bhabha Hospital in Bandra, Byculla Zoo, Colaba and Seepz.

Expert speak
“The Baobab is one of the oldest tree species in Mumbai, as it was brought along by earlier settlers from Africa. Regardless of the fact that the species is non-native, it is important to preserve the historic heritage of the city,” said Zeeshan A Mirza, a student at National Centre for Biological Sciences.

BMC speak
K-East ward officer Bhagyashree Kapse said, “Protection of trees is our job and we will ensure that the Baobab tree on the Aarey Road near Marol remains unharmed. I have received a complaint from a Tree Authority member that the tree, near the cemetery, is being destroyed. All necessary permissions have been issued for the construction of the cemetery.”