Mumbai: Tree transplant at Aarey flops as 20 about to die

Jun 03, 2015, 06:23 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Around 35 trees were transplanted to Aarey Milk Colony to make way for a construction project in another part of Mumbai; environmentalists say most are dying due to lack of proper post-transplantation procedure

Two weeks after they were uprooted from their home and transplanted to Aarey Milk Colony to make way for a construction project, around 20 trees are on the verge of death. Environmentalists alleged that the shoddy transplantation work and lack of supervision on the part of the civic body has led to the tragedy.

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The trees were transplanted to Unit number 16 of Aarey Milk Colony two weeks ago

The trees were transplanted to Unit number 16 of Aarey Milk Colony two weeks ago

The 20 trees are part of a batch of 30-35 trees that had been removed to make way for a construction project in another part of the city. Sources from the office of the CEO of Aarey Milk Colony told mid-day that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had asked the CEO’s office to suggest a vacant space in the colony where these trees could be transplanted.

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The trees were transplanted in an open patch in Unit number 16 of Aarey Milk Colony, close to the grassland area. “The developer approached the BMC’s Garden department, which gave him permission to transplant these trees. So, the Aarey CEO’s office suggested the location at Unit 16,” said the source.

These trees, which are now on the verge of death, were alive and green at their original spot in the city just two weeks ago

The Garden department is the authority which grants permission to cut trees and transplant it elsewhere. The trees included full-grown and mid-sized ones and a pit was dug to plant them. They were watered on the day of transplantation, and two water tankers were stationed nearby to water them regularly.

However, a nature lover from the area who refused to be identified and witnessed the transplantation procedure, alleged that it was a hatchet job. “The hurry in which the entire work was done proved that the authorities have done the transplantation just for the sake of it.

Also Read: Trees still grow in Aarey!

During my morning and evening walks, I would check the status of the trees every day. Within a week, the trees started dying; around 15-20 trees are on the verge of dying and some even appear to be dead. This proves the persons responsible didn’t take proper care of the trees,” he said.

mid-day visited the spot to check on the status of the trees. This correspondent noted that 15-20 trees are on the brink of death. Branches and leaves of some others are drying up, and it appears that neither have the trees been watered, nor have they been transplanted regularly.

Prabhu Swami, a resident of Aarey Colony, said, “If the authorities cannot take care of the 30-35 trees that were transplanted, do you think they will be able to help save the 2,298 trees that might be transplanted if the Metro-3 car depot comes up here? I am really shocked to see the trees that were transplanted just two weeks back are dying.”

Expert speak
According to environment experts, transplantation has almost never reaped any success for the city. Stalin Dayanand, from the NGO Vanshakti, told mid-day, “The survival rate of transplanted trees is less than five per cent; ensuring a tree’s survival after transplantation is not an easy job.

Most of the trees that were removed during the construction of the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road and transplanted in Aarey Milk Colony are dead, because no one is bothered to take proper care of them post-transplantation.” Dayanand added that the lack of training of personnel involved in this process and the use of incorrect methods had caused such a situation.

Official speak
Aarey Milk Colony CEO Gajanan Raut said, “Around 30-35 trees were transplanted on a patch of land in Unit 16 at Aarey Milk Colony around two weeks back, by a developer. The BMC’s Garden department had given him the permission to do the transplantation. So we provided them with the vacant place to transplant the trees.”

When told that around 20 of these trees are on the verge of dying and some are already dead, Raut said, “These transplanted trees require proper care. It is the duty of the developer who planted the trees to take care of the same, including watering them.” While the developer is the one who transplants the trees, it is the BMC’s responsibility to ensure the right procedure is followed and that the trees survive later.

Vijay Hire, BMC garden superintendent, said, “Whenever tree transplantation is done, our deputy superintendent tree officer is always present on the spot during the process, to check if it is being done properly. He must’ve been present at Aarey as well. I don’t have any further information.”

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