Fearing that concretisation of roads might damage roots of roadside trees, the BMC's garden department has prepared a set of guidelines and requested the roads department to follow them while digging roads. The precautions are meant to keep tree basins clean and free of any debris. However, environmental activists said that several such guidelines have been ignored earlier and road works are carried out in an insensitive manner.
The BMC has undertaken concretisation of 397 km of roads at a cost of ₹6,080 crore, which is the biggest ever civic contract for road work. While digging roads if proper care is not taken the roots and trunks of roadside trees get damaged. Heavy rains coupled with gusty winds might uproot such weak trees. So the civic garden cell has come up with measures to avoid damage to trees.
Lack of care leading to damage
“Currently, several construction works and infrastructure projects are being carried out in the city. It has been observed that contractors don't take proper care and consequently damage trees. Construction debris are being dumped at the basin, impacting the roots. The directives will make them accountable to carry out the work with precautions,” said sources from the garden department. However, environmental activists averred that such guidelines have been prepared earlier too, but there were not much difference.
Zoru Bhathena, an environmental activist said, “Earlier too, after our demand the BMC had issued a circular for protection of trees during road works in 2018. But such circulars are never implemented. As per the Maharashtra Preservation of Trees Act 1975, every road must have trees on both the sides. Also, two trees should be planted when one is chopped but trees are easily hacked in Mumbai for construction.”
Another activist Stalin D said, “We had filed a case against concretisation affecting trees before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2017. The NGT had ordered not to concrete tree base but hardly precautions are taken during concretisation. Officials from the garden department are also expected to supervise the work of concretisation near roadside trees. No such supervision is done and the contractor's careless approach affects the trees. Due to concretisation, water doesn't reach till the roots, which weakens them.”
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