Andheri school faces NC for 'poisoning' trees

Updated: Oct 02, 2019, 07:03 IST | Diwakar Sharma

NGO says report prepared by BMC post a survey of the school premises doesn't mention details of the crime that has been committed by killing trees

A view of the dying trees from inside the school premises
A view of the dying trees from inside the school premises

Accused of poisoning 30-odd trees on its premises to pave way for a new building, Andheri-based Karnataka Public School (KPS) now faces a non-cognisable offence registered by the Versova police following a report submitted by the assistant superintendent of gardens of K/west ward. However, NGO Shivtej Foundation, which had brought the matter to the fore in July, is of the opinion that the report doesn't mention details of the crime committed by killing trees and that an FIR should be registered against those guilty. Three months ago the NGO had first noticed that the trees were dying.

They reported the matter to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and MHADA on July 25. Speaking to mid-day, president of the NGO, Sumit Dhuri said, "Unauthorised cutting of trees is offensive and punishable under the Maharashtra (urban areas) Preservation of Trees Act (1975) and Section 21 of the Maharashtra Preservation of Trees Act & Maharashtra Felling of Trees (Regulation) Act, 1964. But instead of registering an FIR, the BMC has only filed an NC at Versova police station. This clearly shows how much the civic body and government care for trees. The government is promoting its mission to plant 33 crore trees this year but the reality is just the opposite."

"The seriousness of the incident is equivalent to that of a murder. The authorities should have investigated the matter with utmost care but even after constant follow ups, the officials kept giving excuses and said that no such incident ever happened," he added. Following mid-day's report on September 12, assistant superintendent of gardens, K west ward, Yogendra Singh Kachhwa was given the responsibility to file a report based on a survey of the school premises and approach Versova police to register an FIR.

However, the NGO alleged that the report doesn't mention details of the crime that had been committed against trees. "The report does not include – clear names of the accused, official list of trees killed including their age, appointment of third party horticulturist and the report, chemical analysis of tree roots and soil investigation report," he added.

Stating that there was evidence of merciless killing and harming of trees, Dhuri said, "They also poured concrete in the pilings very close to the tree roots and destroyed the root system. As a result, trees of indigenous species like Peempal, Neem, Mango, Peru, Badaam and Ashoka are dead." A senior Versova police officer confirmed that an NC was registered against the school authority on September 26. When contacted, ward officer Vishwas Mote said, "Sometimes, the police first file an NC and later it is converted into an FIR. Currently the verification process is on. After proper verification, if the school authority is found guilty, we will definitely register an FIR against them under relevant sections of the Tree Prevention Act."

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