Mumbai: 64 per cent trees transplanted for Metro construction at Aarey are dead

Updated: Nov 20, 2019, 08:53 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

A site visit by high court-appointed committee proves what environmental activists have always suspected: MMRCL does not care for city's green cover

The HC-appointed tree committee visited seven sites; mid-day reported on October 10 about the concerns that transplants performed by Metro are failing
The HC-appointed tree committee visited seven sites; mid-day reported on October 10 about the concerns that transplants performed by Metro are failing

After all the assurance of transplanting trees that were cut at Aarey Milk Colony for the Metro car shed, it has turned out that over 60 per cent of these are already dead. The high-court appointed tree committee which visited the transplantation sites on Tuesday saw that of the 1060 trees transplanted, 680 were dead.

The trees were transplanted by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) at seven different locations inside Aarey itself. The sites of transplantation included Unit 20, Gate 20, Gate 25/6, the location opposite picnic point, next to Mithi River/close to Car Depot site, Durga Nagar and Gate 32.

City-based activist Zoru Bhathena, who has been fighting to save the trees inside Aarey Milk colony, and visited the transplantation sites on Tuesday, alleged that over 60 per cent of the transplanted trees were dead.

"The total trees transplanted by Metro III in Aarey were 1,060 and after our visit to seven transplantation sites, it has come to light that 680 are dead. This is a good 64 per cent. The authorities have clearly not taken proper care of the transplanted trees. Aarey is a fertile land where trees grow freely but it has turned into a graveyard. This exposes the claims made by MMRC that it was taking care of the trees." Bhathena also said that he had in the past too highlighted the negligence of authorities towards the trees. "During our past visits, we had brought to the notice of MMRC that transplanted trees were dying at several places in Aarey. We were expecting them to act on it but nothing has improved. We will be visiting several other transplantation locations on Wednesday after which we will be in a position to quote the actual survival rate of transplanted trees. A detailed report in this regard will be prepared and submitted to the High Court then," added Bhathena. On October 10, a report in mid-day had stated this too.

Activists allege that the transplantation was not done correctlyActivists allege that the transplantation was not done correctly

How trees are transplanted?

According to botanists, there is a scientific method that is followed while transplanting trees. "Most of the agencies do not fully follow this procedure. The common practice is to simply dig the area surrounding the tree and after pruning its branches, they lift it with the help of a JCB and dump it in another pit that is ready. In such cases, the survival chances of the tree are extremely low," a botanist explained.

He further said that the system that needs to be followed is to first spread water around a tree before removing it for transplantation. "This needs to be done for almost seven to 30 days before removing the tree, depending on its size. The water is spread in the area known as the root zone. A chemical that helps to propagate the root is also spread in the root zone. A root wall is then prepared around the tree roots. It must be keenly checked if the soil surrounding the roots is intact and the roots are then covered with jute bags. This is how a root wall is prepared," the botanist elaborated. In the next stage, the pruning of 60 per cent of tree branches is done and the main stump of the tree is taken safely to the transplantation site. "It must be placed in the pit whose size depends on the diameter of the root zone. After transplantation, the tree should be monitored on a daily basis and watering should be undertaken at regular intervals for the tree to survive," he concluded.

Location-wise status of transplanted trees

1. Unit 20: 399 transplanted - 235 dead
2. Gate 20: 81 transplanted- 51 dead
3. Gate 25/26: 64 transplanted- 46 dead
4. Opposite Picnic Point: 41 transplanted - 29 dead
5. Next to Mithi/Depot plot: 461 transplanted - 310 dead
6. Durganagar: 10 transplanted - 9 dead
7. Gate 32: 4 transplanted - 0 dead

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