Mumbai: Over 12,000 trees to be removed for infrastructure
While BMC promises Miyawaki forests, thousands of trees in Aarey will be cleared
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to green the city through Miyawaki forests, but ironically, it will remove more than 12,000 trees for various infrastructure projects in the coming months. While the Miyawaki forests will take some years to grow, the Tree Authority will chop 2,702 trees for the Metro III Aarey car depot, 1,510 trees for Metro VI, 1,004 trees for the Sewri Trans-Harbour Link, 631 trees for the Kurla-Vakola elevated road and other projects soon.
The Tree Authority couldn't take decisions on removing trees in the absence of tree experts from last October. Now the authority has appointed five experts, and all the pending proposals are pouring in. As per the usual practice, BMC publishes notices in newspapers about hearings for tree cuttings, and puts the report before the Tree Authority. There were 7,132 tree-removal notices published in just the two months of July and August. Before that notices about removal of 5,000 trees were published in the first six months of 2019. In all, this year, the BMC has published 12,310 tree-removal notices.
Interestingly, while the BMC is chopping thousands of trees in and around Mumbai, it is planning to plant 15,000 native trees in the catchment area of Middle Vaitarna Dam, on the border of Thane and Nashik district. There is a proposal of Rs 2.14 crore for this, out of which Rs 1.20 crore will be spent on saplings and the rest will be spent over seven years on maintenance.
"Tree plantation is a good thing. But it will take 10-15 years for them to grow. We don't know whether they will survive. If the government is planting trees in the city, people can see them and won't go against the tree cutting. But this is not happening," said Zoru Bhathena, an environmental activist. He commented that though the Miyawaki forests is a good idea, the civic body is creating forests while allowing thousands of trees to be cut in Aarey forest.
As per the tree census carried out by the BMC in 2018, there were around 29.75 lakh trees in the city (excluding 4.20 lakh trees in Aarey), out of which 15.63 lakh are on private premises. There are 11.25 lakh trees in government areas and 1.1 lakh trees in the gardens and 4.20 lakh trees in Aarey.
No. of trees to be cut for major projects
- Dr Ambedkar Centenary Hospital, Kandivali W 842
- Metro 2B dept at Mandale 431
- Metro 6 207
- Mumbai Metro 3 car depot at Aarey 2,702
- Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link, Sewri 1,004
- Metro 4 stations 1,510
- Kurla-Vakola elevated road 631
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