Mumbai: Metro, the biggest contributor in 2019, to loss of green cover
Data shows the city's annual tree loss has gone from an average of 5,000 till last year to 13,000 trees in 2019, including 6,000 for Metro alone
Although the Metro is projected as an 'environment-friendly' transport alternative by the government, as per latest figures on tree-cutting, they already seem to be taking a toll on the city's green cover. In the first 11 months of this year, the Tree Authority received proposals for removal or transplantation of over 13,000 trees, which is a whopping 160 per cent rise from the yearly average of 5,000 trees facing the axe.
Out of the 13,000, nearly 6,000 permissions were related to the various Metro projects, including the controversial car shed in Aarey Milk Colony. With another month-and-a-half for the year to end, this number could very well see a further rise. The Tree Authority (TA) of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), before deciding on permissions for removal of trees for various projects, takes suggestions/objections from citizens through public notices and sometimes, by carrying out inspections.
The proposals seek to both, cut and transplant trees. File pics
This year, proposals to remove 13,427 trees came to the fore through notices issued by the BMC. Out of these, a few hundred notices from October and November are still being processed by the TA. This data has been collated by green activist Zoru Bathena with the help of the public notices issued by the BMC. In 2018, the TA issued permissions to remove 8,775 trees — with approximately 2,500 trees having been removed for Metro 3 stations.
Though there are some other projects, the main contributors to tree-cutting are the ongoing Metro rail lines. Permissions have been sought to remove 5,958 trees for various Metro lines, including Metro 2B (D N Nagar-Mandale), Metro 6 (Lokhandwala-Jogeshwari-Vikhroli-Kanjurmarg), Metro 4 (Wadala-Kasarvadavali via Ghatkopar, Mulund, and Teen Hath Naka), Metro 2A (Dahisar-Andheri) and the Metro 3 (Colaba-Seepz) car shed at Aarey.
With another month for the year to end, more trees could face chopping
"The BMC commissioner, who is the chairperson of the Tree Authority, and the civic administration are working under pressure and giving permissions for tree removals without following any norms. They are also trying to bring back the two experts who resigned over the Aarey car shed issue," said Yashwant Jadhav, Shiv Sena corporator and a member of the TA.
"Metro is needed as another travel option in this crowded city, but projecting it as environment-friendly and a traffic-reducing exercise is just a PR exercise. What matters is that trees are saved while also developing the Metro. But we don't see the green cover increasing even after the completion of a major part of Metro 2 and 7," Bathena said. Spokespersons of Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) were not available for comment.
Average no. of trees sought to be removed yearly
Major projects seeking tree-cutting
Metro 2B ESIC Nagar, Andheri-Nanavati Hospital - 226
Metro 2B depot at Mandale - 431
Metro 2B's 6 stations at Kurla, Chembur and EEH - 179
Metro 6 stations - 606
Mumbai Metro 3 car depot at Aarey - 2,702
Metro 4 stations - 1510
Metro 2A line (Andheri-Dahisar) - 304
Dr Ambedkar Centenary Hospital, Kandivali W - 842
Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, Sewri - 1,004
Kurla-Vakola elevated road - 631
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