The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s tree committee on Friday approved a proposal to cut 481 trees in Goregaon (East) to make way for the construction of a single residential project.
In 2011, the committee had permitted cutting 278 trees in the same plot being developed by Kingston Properties Pvt Limited, known as Oberoi Realty Pvt Limited since 2009.
Of the 481 trees, only 194 can be replanted. The decision has, however, been severely criticised by corporators and environmentalists. “The municipal commissioner’s role in this process is suspicious, we expected him to take care of the green cover of the city, especially in view of global warming,” said BJP corporator and member of the tree committee, Amit Satam, who along with fellow BJP corporator Manisha Chowdhury walked out of the meeting.
The tree committee has 15 members and is chaired by BMC Commissioner Sitaram Kunte.
In 2011, in two separate proposals, Oberoi Realty received permission for clearing 164 trees in January, and 114 trees in October, on the same plot in Dindoshi Nagar. “The Oberoi Realty property is next to Aarey Colony near Sanjay Gandhi National Park. So far, the company has not felled all the trees as permitted, and may cut some later as and when they need to for their construction,” said an official of the BMC Gardens department.
Kunte said, “The proposal was collectively passed with agreement from the tree committee members. It was put to vote — based on which we made a decision.”
Vikas Oberoi, chairman and managing director of Oberoi Realty Limited remained unavailable for comment.
As per the census on trees in the city in 2008, there were 84,000 trees. In the following years, major construction activity in the area has transformed the neighbourhood into a new commercial and residential hub.
“There has been a lot of construction and many trees have been cut. But permission has been given on the condition that for every tree cut, two must be planted. In the next census, P South’s tree cover should exceed 84,000,” said the Gardens department official.
Manisha Chowdhury said the proposal to cut an additional 481 trees should have included information on trees that have replanted so far. “Of the 164 trees cut in January, we do not know if the mandatory replantation of 26 trees has been carried out,” she said adding that the meeting agenda arrived on Friday morning instead of three days ago.
“Instead of conservation, the tree authority has made a name in tree-cutting.
This is a prime example of how the builder’s lobby rules Mumbai even at the cost of its lungs.
The BMC says its for development but nobody really cares. It is mandatory that the private party wait for 15 days after receiving permission, but I am sure they will start cutting this weekend. The only option left is to move court or hit the streets,” said N. Naik, vice president of the NGO, Friends of Trees.