Most trees replanted in Aarey by MMRCL dead or dying

Updated: Oct 10, 2019, 07:17 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

A visit to the transplantation site in Aarey car shed site reveals that more than 40 of hundreds of trees replanted from elsewhere to felicitate Metro work are in a bad shape

The nature lover said the authorities should get tree experts to inspect the site
The nature lover said the authorities should get tree experts to inspect the site

The butchering of trees in Aarey Milk Colony is not yet complete. While the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) claimed that it has transplanted many trees removed for the Metro line three alignment and is taking care of them, a nature lover who went to check on them, says 35-40 of them have either died or are on the verge of dying. He fears that there may be more such trees and so experts should inspect the site. Nature lovers also fear that since the police are still guarding the car shed site, the chopping of trees must be on.

Transplanted trees dying

On Wednesday the nature lover (he did not want to be named) visited the area close to Tapeshwar temple adjacent to the car depot site, and found that trees which were removed from the Metro line three alignment and were transplanted, had a bad survival rate. Since 2017, MMRCL has transplanted hundreds of trees removed from the Metro 3 alignment. The nature lover said, "MMRCL has been making tall claims about how it has successfully transplanted trees that it had removed from other locations along the Metro line three alignment. I wanted to verify the claims and was shocked to see that the ground reality was different. I walked for around 300-400 metres and found that around 35 to 40 trees were almost dead or on the verge of dying." mid-day had highlighted this issue many months back. The nature lover took pictures of the trees to prove his point and plans to send them to the forest and environment departments along with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) Tree Authority.

Papers stuck on the trees show the location from where they were uprooted along the Line 3 alignment. Pics/Ranjeet Jadhav
Papers stuck on the trees show the location from where they were uprooted along the Line 3 alignment. Pics/Ranjeet Jadhav

'Inspect the trees'

"I think the authorities should conduct a site inspection involving tree experts/nature lovers/citizens to reveal the truth of transplantation to the world," he added. The nature lover also found papers stuck on many dead trees showing the location from where they were uprooted. Environmentalist Zoru Bhathena said, "The Bombay High Court has set up a committee of two sitting judges to monitor the level of tree care by MMRCL. This committee has repeatedly passed strictures against MMRCL for their low level of tree care. The percentage of transplanted trees dying has increased from 40 per cent in 2018 to over 50 per cent in 2019. Despite the HC pursuing the MMRCL to improve the survival percentage of trees, they just haven't complied. The line of dead transplanted trees at nearly every site is testimony to the low level of tree care given by MMRCL. It is a shame to see that MMRCL can provide world-class Metro services, but such a low level of tree care. Such a shame."

Stalin D of NGO Vanashakti said, "The record of MMRCL's tree transplantation is dismal. The rate of survival is not even 50 per cent. Success can only be determined after another two years. Transplantation of trees is a delicate exercise and requires skill and expenses. The foreign experts of MMRCL are nowhere to be seen. Uprooting a tree using heavy machinery and dumping the stumps in places hidden from public scrutiny is the method used. If MMRCL is serious they should transplant the trees in public view."

Many of the transplanted trees have dried
Many of the transplanted trees have dried

'Trees still being cut'

While MMRCL has issued a press statement saying it has cut majority of the required trees for the car depot, Stalin D posted a video on Facebook alleging that its claims are misleading and hundreds of trees are still standing. Stalin D said, "The MMRCL lawyer kept telling the Supreme Court to record that 2,170 trees were already cut. The judges saw through the act and refused to record it. Three times the lawyer tried to put words into the judges' mouths prompting the judges to snap and order him not to dictate the judgment, and if he continued, they would issue a stay order. We have credible evidence that hundreds of trees are still standing on the plot. The least the Shiv Sena can do is to ask the Tree Authority members of their party to visit the site to verify the truth. Please do not buy the lie that the site has been cleared of trees. If the police are still stopping people from entering Aarey, it can only mean that the cutting continues."

2,170
No. of trees cut at the car shed site in Aarey Colony as per MMRCL

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