Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
Yet another tree fell in Chembur taking the life of a woman, the breadwinner for her family comprising college and school-going children. This time, it was a gulmohar tree which crashed while the woman was sitting on a bench under it. Last time, a similar accident happened in Chembur when a coconut tree fell upon a woman killing her. There have been countless cases of tree falls in Mumbai, particularly during the rainy season, resulting in death, injury to people or damage to public property.
The situation is not much different in other cities where such incidents are being reported with alarming regularity. In the latest Chembur incident, the talk is that the gulmohar tree is a “foreign” species to India and falls without warning! This comment is rather surprising since the gulmohar tree that is seen across the Indian sub-continent and called krishnachura in eastern India figures regularly in age-old poetry and literature.
There is an utter neglect and lack of maintenance of tree cover in urban areas by municipal bodies. Not only are trees being cut with impunity, the roads and pavements are cemented which block the spread of roots, stifling them leading to their fall when strong winds blow.
A recent case of tree-cutting in point is Aarey Milk Colony in Mumbai wherein as many as 516 trees are slated to be cut for the Metro-3 line projects.
The tree authority had, sometime back, issued a public notice seeking objections and suggestions for the proposal of cutting 444 trees at Saritpur Nagar, Goregaon. The trees would make way for an exit ramp, setting electricity pylon and road diversion plot in the Aarey colony area. Another 72 trees are slated to be chopped for the casting yard and launching shaft at Aarey Colony.
Similarly, in another case several trees lining the Delhi-Saharanpur road in Shamli onwards have been cut for the road widening, but the widening work has not even been started so far.
“There are agricultural fields on both the sides of this road. And there is extensive use of pesticides in these fields. So much so that in the mornings when spraying is done its difficult breathing. The trees were the only succour and with these gone, the environment here has become very polluted,” says Sumita Singh, administrator, Ganga Amrit Hospital, Shamli, Uttar Pradesh.