Mumbai: Andheri colony locals shudder at tree breaks

Updated: Jun 13, 2019, 07:52 IST | Hemal Ashar

Branches snap off trees raising trepidation levels as monsoon gathers momentum in Mumbai

Mumbai: Andheri colony locals shudder at tree breaks
Anand Shirali pointing to a branch that snapped from the tree in the colony and fell on the main road on Tuesday morning. Pics/Shadab Khan

Locals around Andheri's Dhake Colony area had a lucky escape on Tuesday, June 11. Even as two branches from the towering trees in the colony snapped and fell on the main road, no one was hurt as they fell just outside the colony. They were alerted to the sound of the branches snapping and could hence move out of the way. Two people though were caught in the foliage of the fallen branches. One was a postman and the other a house help. Both were extricated by shopkeepers nearby.

"These trees have roots inside the colony but bend outside," said Anand Shirali, chairman of the colony on JP Road. "These trees should have been trimmed two weeks ago. We already saw on Tuesday morning the branches of two trees snap. One was of a gulmohar tree, which first fell on a coconut tree, causing a branch from that tree to break and fall on the road. I did call the fire brigade but because no one was trapped, they told me to call the tree department, who came and cut the branches," he said. Shirali added, "This was a fortuitous escape for people. On May 22, a big branch of a eucalyptus tree within the colony snapped and was dangling. The fire brigade came, cut it and took it away."

The trees are at an angle in the colony
The trees are at an angle in the colony

Urgent action

Now Dhake Colony residents have written a letter on June 11, to the 'K' Ward office stating that trees have fallen and the colony will not take responsibility for any accident/death with reference to further tree falls. They urged the BMC's tree department to 'undertake trimming/cutting seriously and immediately.' Resident Aruna Bhat said, "We are fortunate to have so much greenery in our colony. Yet, most of these trees are very old, planted more than 45 years ago. Trimming has to be done periodically." Another resident Priti P is worried because, "children play under these trees and we are a residential colony surrounded by a dense commercial area."

Rajiv Sachdev, Dhake Colony committee member, said, "Our colony is roughly 67 years old, so many trees here are very old. They need to be cut or trimmed regularly. In fact, we, the residents have tied an iron rod on a tree to give it support. We can see that some trees are in danger of falling, and have seen the bark peeling. There is too much rigmarole and time wastage as ordinary people have to try to get the authorities to come and cut or trim trees."

Shirali claimed that the paperwork, "where we need to write a letter, then pay the relevant authorities is time consuming. We understand and appreciate the process, and will of course comply with all rules, but a weak tree waits for nobody. The ominous crack of that branch on June 11 morning should serve as a warning bell."

Procedure, procedure

Amol Ithape for the K Ward said, "The tree trimming/cutting will be done as per procedure. We have only got the letter on June 11. Now, our people will survey the area and as the trees are in a private residential colony, permissions have to be obtained for tree cutting/trimming and once residents have the permissions they can undertake the action themselves. Otherwise, there is a payment to the BMC. Why have the residents woken up only after the branch fell? They know the procedure and should have moved/written a letter earlier."

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