Trees being killed in Matunga to make way for construction?

Jul 12, 2013, 01:27 IST | Shirish Vaktania

An activist noticed that huge trees were drying up in the neighbourhood, and found three such trees near a construction site with holes bored into them; BMC officials concluded that deadly chemicals were being injected into them

The Matunga police have registered a case against unknown persons for injecting deadly chemicals into colossal trees in the locality, causing them to die prematurely. Officials are clueless about the perpetrators of this unique crime.

Bhandarkar Road in Matunga
Cold blooded murder: When activist Nikhil Desai (below) was passing a construction site on Bhandarkar Road in Matunga, he noticed that three trees next to it had dried up.

The culprits first drilled several holes at the base of the trees, after which they injected the deadly chemicals into them. A local social worker noticed the altered appearance of the trees and notified BMC officials. After two months of investigation, an FIR is registered with the Matunga police.

Nikhil Desai

According to social worker Nikhil Desai, several old, gnarled but strong trees in Matunga dried up two months ago. Noticing the altered appearance of the trees, he took photographs and submitted them to BMC. Desai said, “We wanted to know what exactly was causing these trees to dry up.

Later, when I was passing a construction site on Bhandarkar Road, I noticed that three trees next to it had dried up similarly. When I went close to the trees to inspect, I found several holes drilled into it. I found this very suspicious.”

Inspecting it, he found several holes drilled into them. Pics/Satyajit Desai

Desai took photographs of the trees and submitted it to BMC’ F North ward. The BMC officials started their own inspections. The officials found that three trees had more than 40 holes drilled into them. They discovered that deadly chemicals were injected into the trees through those holes.

Desai said, “First I thought that trees may have dried up due to fungal attack, which is common. Several trees in Mumbai dry up due to fungal infections. But in this case, the trees were actually killed, which is shocking.”

Acting upon their findings, the BMC officials registered a case at Matunga police station. Senior Police Inspector Raghvendra Thakur of Matunga police station said, “We have registered a case against unknown people under several sections of the Maharashtra Tree Protection Act. We are investigating the case with the help of BMC officials.”

Desai added, “Trees too have life. Killing a tree is like killing a human being. I will take the matter to higher authorities and see to it that strict action is taken against the culprit. In a silent and secretive way, these trees are being killed.”

When MiD DAY approached ward officer Narendra Barade, he said, “I am unaware of the incident and don’t even remember it. I will check and reply.”  

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