Mumbai: BMC standing committee floats proposal on monsoon tree audit

The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), on Wednesday, revealed that a total of 812 trees were uprooted in Mumbai by cyclone Tauktae, which hit on May 17.

Issuing a statement, it informed that, out of the total trees, 504 trees fell in private properties and 308 trees fell in public spaces. The statement also said that 307 trees had fallen in the western suburbs, followed by 256 trees in the eastern suburbs and 249 trees in the city. Approximately 70% of the total trees that had fallen belonged to various exotic categories, such as Peltophorum, Gulmohar, Thespesia and Royal Palm.

The highest number of trees (84) were uprooted in M (West) ward (Chembur and Tilak Nagar). H (West) ward (Bandra (West), Khar, Santacruz) followed with 67 trees and K (West) ward (Andheri (West), Juhu and Versova) with 53 trees. Meanwhile, 1,454 branches had also fallen during the cyclone in Mumbai.

Considering the heavy loss of property, members of the BMC standing committee suggested that scientific audits of trees should be done to avert such catastrophes in the future. Vishakha Raut, senior Shiv Sena corporator and leader of the house in the civic body, issued a point of order and backed the demand, which was unanimously supported by members across party lines. "Uprooted trees have caused immense damage in all forms in the past two days. What if the wind speed was more than what it was during the cyclone?" asked Raut. "The civic administration needs to look into the issue of conserving trees more scientifically and should implement a policy of conducting regular tree audits," she added.

Corporators pointed out that more than 48 hours have passed, but BMC is yet to clear uprooted trees from their areas. "BMC needs to be proactive. Incidents of trees uprooting have become a constant issue for many years now," said Ravi Raja, leader of opposition in the house. "BMC has been working day and night since the day the cyclone hit. However, the damage is so much that uprooted trees in many places in my constituency haven't been cleared yet," said Asif Zakaria, Congress corporator from Bandra.

Meanwhile, senior officials of BMC have said that, due to the massive damage, the process of clearing trees is taking time. "We need to chop the trees part by part and then only will we be able to clear them. The process of chopping is time-consuming, which is why it is taking more time than usual," said a senior official of the BMC garden cell.

Another senior civic official informed that BMC has already cleared trees in most parts of the city and the process of debris clearance is only left. "All the roads will be cleared in the next two days," the official said. "We have also received the proposal of starting tree audits and we may be able to consider the proposal as well," he added.

In its issued statement, BMC also stated that the Garden Department will be reworking on its policies and the policy of tree audit could be added soon.

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