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Mumbai: Huge tree hacked overnight in Santacruz

Updated on: 30 April,2024 05:21 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Prajakta Kasale |

Local residents say centuries-old tree wasn’t hampering Metro work, no notice regarding action was served

Mumbai: Huge tree hacked overnight in Santacruz

The leveled area where the tree stood

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Mumbai: Huge tree hacked overnight in Santacruz

A huge baobab tree—native to Africa and rare in Mumbai—located in Santacruz West has been cut down and the road around it concreted within a day, allege residents of the area. The residents opposed the MMRDA proposal to cut the tree on S V Road, near the intersection of Saraswati Road at the Podar School traffic signal, during Metro 2B work in 2021. Though the authority had taken back its decision at that time, residents said the tree was cut down without any notice on Sunday and the road was concreted immediately.

According to the tree census carried out in 2008, there were 120 baobab trees, which were brought to the country around a 500 years ago by Portuguese traders and planted in various parts of the city. There are two huge baobab trees at the entrance of Rani Baug in Byculla. “Historically, this is a big loss. The tree was more than 300 years old and was likely brought from Madagascar by Portuguese settlers. Several generations grew up with the tree as a part of the neighbourhood,” Santacruz resident Debasish Chakraverty said.

The baobab tree in Santacruz West
The baobab tree in Santacruz West

According to Chakraverty, the tree wasn’t hampering the Metro work. “The station is supposed to be in Khira Nagar. We opposed the cutting of the tree earlier in 2019 and 2021 and Aaditya Thackeray, then minister, had also tweeted that it was not going to be removed as it was a rare tree. But now suddenly without any announcement the tree was removed within a night and the road was concreted.”

There are a total of nine species of these trees. The species found in Mumbai is adansonia digitata. The tree can hold more water and nutrients than any other tree, and so its base appears to be swollen. The baobab trees are found in Mumbai at Colaba, Jijamata Udyan (Byculla), Bandra, Santacruz, Andheri-Seepz, Aarey Milk Colony, Kandivli and also at Vasai, among other locations.

It has been reported that a total of 1,134 trees were cut and another 1,670 trees were removed for the work of the elevated Metro line. The Metro spokesperson did not reply to the messages and calls from mid-day. Activist Aditi Kane said, “The tree was a living monument and mascot of our neighbourhood. It didn’t pose a hindrance to the Metro work. When we inquired about the incident, the officials concerned told us that they had all permissions from the tree authority. But there wasn’t any recent notice. I doubt the authorities are aware of the importance of this tree. There wasn’t any sign of it left at the location.”

With inputs from Rajendra B. Aklekar

No of baobab trees in Mumbai

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