Mumbai: More than 70 per cent of all tree fall cases reported in the city in the monsoon were on private properties where the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will trim trees only if requested by citizens. The civic body said the responsibility lies on Mumbaikars as well and they should be proactive when it comes to environmental issues.
The disaster management unit of the BMC received 470 complaints of tree fall in the past three months. Seven people were killed and 21 injured in these cases. Of the 470 cases, 340 tree fall incidents were on privately-owned land. “Whenever a tree falls, it is the BMC which is blamed. Cases where we failed, we accept. But it also up to the residents to inform us about trimming trees. We trimmed the trees of those societies which asked us to do so,” said a senior civic official.
While the BMC, as part of its pre-monsoon preparation, inspected 1.23 lakh trees across the city and trimmed more than 80,000 of them, it has been repeatedly criticised by corporators for its policy on taking care of trees on private property. However, in its defence, the BMC maintains it had done its homework. “We not only trimmed trees before monsoon, but also pruned more than 8,000 of them during the rainy season to avert accidents,” said Kishore Kshirsagar, deputy municipal commissioner, gardens. Currently, private societies need to seek permission and must pay the BMC trimming and transportation costs. Any society or individual can trim trees only after an inspection is done by a junior tree officer from the BMC.
Citizens, however, say they are not tree experts and the onus lies on the corporation to do a survey each year. “What exactly is the corporation for? If we had the expertise, then why would we need the BMC? They should conduct a survey in all societies, even if these are private. Would it be all right if we do not vote in the elections since we live on private properties?” asked a Bandra resident.