In yet another classic example of bureaucratic apathy, over 500 trees in Navi Mumbai have either died or are on the verge of dying. These trees, which were uprooted/chopped for a highway-widening project, were supposed to be transplanted. It has been learnt that the company in-charge of transplantation, J Kumar Company, failed to adhere by the prescribed guidelines for transplantation of trees, thus killing maximum trees.
A year ago, the Public Works Department had awarded the Rs 1,220-crore contract for widening and concretisation of the 23-km-long highway to a joint venture between IVRCL and KIPL. Then, the IVRCL and the PWD had identified a total of 4,146 trees (including 1,873 in Navi Mumbai) along the Sion-Panvel Highway, which had to be uprooted/chopped for the widening work. Though J Kumar Company, a sub-contractor to IVRCL-KIPL, sought permission from the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) to uproot 1,873, it restricted itself to relocation of just over 500 trees.
All is well?
When contacted, J Kumar officials said that they have transplanted all the trees, but failed to give exact locations. When the correspondent visited various spots along the Sion-Panvel Highway under NMMC’s jurisdiction, he discovered that the contractor had transplanted only a handful of trees, most of which had died due to improper transplantation methods. Anand Shahapure, manager, J Kumar Company, said, “We have transplanted most of the trees close to the spots from where they had been uprooted. Though we didn’t appoint any expert to oversee the transplantation process, we have done a good job. We can show all the transplanted trees.”
Apart from the alleged recklessness exhibited by the sub-contractor in transplanting uprooted trees, even the NMMC failed to keep a tab on the entire process. When contacted, NMMC officials said that they would look into the matter and if found guilty, would penalise the sub-contractor. Chandrakant Tayde, administrative officer, Horticulture department, NMMC, said, “We will look into the matter and ask them to send us a detailed report on transplanted trees. The company has deposited Rs 20 lakh and we’ll deduct the fine from this amount, if found guilty of doing a shoddy job.”