A Chembur MLA’s suggestion of restricting the height of trees to 20 feet, isn’t going down too well with city environmental activists.
This monsoon, potholes are not the only nuisance-causing element in Mumbai. Another scary series of incidents that have emerged in the past few weeks are branches of trees that seem to be snapping off and falling, not just damaging vehicles, but also killing people.
Keeping in mind the few disturbing events, Chembur MLA Prakash Phaterpekar seems to have found a solution. According to him, authorities must formulate a policy where only trees that can grow upto 20 feet in height should be planted on the roads of the city. As bizarre as it may sound, he suggested that the idea isn’t to deplete the city's green cover, but limit the extent of damage caused by falling branches and boughs.
Noted environmental activist Rishi Aggarwal feels that the solution is simply ad hoc and shouldn’t come into practice, “It is the inability of the tree authorities to maintain them that is causing such damage. The problem is not with the trees or their height, but the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities. On what basis is he making such claims? Does he have any research to validate it or is it one of those arbitrary claims?” he questions.
With the rising temperatures and the dark cloud of global warming looming over our heads, this isn’t a wise choice to make, believes activist Girish Raut. “The vertical height, the canopy of the tree everything seems to be causing a problem here, instead of opting to plant more trees and align them properly suggested solutions like these will make the city inhabitable in near future,” he rues. Legislators, bureaucrats and politicians should understand the environment before putting forth such solutions he suggests. “Their thinking is extremely short term. Are they keeping global temperatures in mind? We are already reaching a limit and trees are the only saving grace,” Girish sighs. Maintaining the height and trimming trees from time to time is the way to go, feels activist Anandini Thakur. “It’s a wise decision only if it is executed well. When trees grow beyond a particular height, they cause a nuisance and are difficult to maintain. The block windows, rats enter in or they just break,” she says. While transplanting trees isn't the best option, doing it using proper technology will help, “The problem with trees in Mumbai is that they are not aligned properly. They can’t breathe because of the paver blocks and the concrete around them, and they end up falling. While uprooting the tree is deadly, we should learn the correct procedure of transplanting trees from countries like Singapore, who have aced the process. Currently, when trees are transplanted in the city the chances of their survival are meek,” she says.