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Mumbai: ‘Safety of life is priority’

Updated on: 26 April,2024 07:25 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Hemal Ashar |

Tree officer talks about trimming season in Mumbai; says important to close trust deficit between civic authorities, citizens

Mumbai: ‘Safety of life is priority’

Jitendra believes in taking some good trunk calls. Pics/Aditi Haralkar

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Mumbai: ‘Safety of life is priority’

Jitendra Pardeshi, tree officer, BMC, speaks out as tree trimming season is on in full swing in Mumbai and Maximum City gets ready for maximum challenges in the forthcoming rainy season. Pardeshi who is also Superintendent of Gardens, said pruning trees is a necessity as citizen safety is top of the priority pyramid.

Approximately how many trees are being surveyed for strength/pruning needs?
We have approximately 30 lakh trees in Mumbai. Out of this 1,86, 248 are on our roads and we have surveyed approximately 1,40,000 trees. We found that 433 trees are dead. There are 1,13,534 roadside trees that need to be trimmed out of the 1,48,169 surveyed till now. We have at least 120 officers working in 24 wards.

Do you have trained staffers conducting this tree-trimming exercise?
We have officials who are MSc and PhDs. We also have contractors and a horticulturist. We hold training/workshops in the latest techniques for our officials, so there are regular updates and upgradation and the staff is very well trained.

What are you looking for when you decide that a tree needs pruning/cutting?
There are several factors. We must also understand that there are trees on the main roads and in building societies. We have to ensure the safety of life and property. We do know what we are doing.

What specifically are some unique Mumbai challenges when it comes to tree trimming?
There is a density of buildings here. One part of the tree receives sunlight, while a building may block the sun on the other part. So, there is an imbalance and we need to correct that through pruning. We also have to cut certain branches to prolong the life of the tree. We do our job, but at times, when the wind velocity is too much, the tree cannot withstand the force. We saw that recently in Dubai.

There seems to be some sort of trust deficit between the civic authorities and citizens. The latter often accuse the former of unnecessarily hacking trees or surreptitiously cutting them completely under the guise of pre-monsoon tree trimming...

This is untrue. We want to be on same page as our citizens and we have a well-trained, well-equipped team to handle this. We also up awareness by informing the concerned police station in the ward about when and where the trimming will take place. We are fully committed to preservation and protection, but we need to prune if there is any danger. One may have a difference of opinion at times, but overall, we are with people. Tree trimming will be over by June 7. I also exhort people not to shelter under trees or park under them when there are showers, to take protection from the rain. In fact, during monsoon, we will also have an officer stationed in the Disaster Control Room, so that there can be immediate response in case of any tree-related incidents.

No of trees that need to be trimmed

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