Several residents of Khar are protesting the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) plans to fell a grove of trees to carry out a road widening project. From organising protests locally to approaching the Bombay High Court, no stone has been left unturned. With the High Court restraining the civic body from action until further orders are passed, the residents are hopeful.
Zoru Darayus Bhatena, who recently filed an application over this issue had also filed a public interest litigation saying he had noticed that the suburbs were fast losing their green cover.
“I started noticing that the trees were dying while travelling every day from my house in Khar (West) to my place of work in Kandivli (West), covering a stretch of 25 km. Most of the trees were infected by mealy bugs. It is the civic body’s duty to look after these trees but they have failed to do so,” he said.
When the issue of trees being cut indiscriminately hit closer home, said Bhatena, he decided to take up the issue on a war footing.
According to the petition filed by him, the BMC plans to widen road numbers 13 to 17 in Khar West and to make way for the project, several healthy trees along the stretch will be cut.
The petition also states that on the road 13 alone, BMC had put up notices of felling 29 of the 74 trees.
“Approaching the High Court was the only way left. The BMC only seems to do something to improve on the situation if court passes orders,” added Bhatena.
A bench led by Justice V M Kanade recently directed the civic body to take into consideration all objections from the residents and also the court’s view before taking any further action on the widening project. This issue has brought together several tree lovers in the area.
“The tree authority doesn’t seem to be doing enough to protect the tree cover in the city. Having a green city is increasingly important to cancel out the ill effects of pollution. Development does not mean that nature should be affected The reason they want to widen the road and cut trees is not logical. The road is choked due to parking problems and not because there is not enough driving space,” said Sabishi Shankar, who is a resident of Pali Hill but used to live in Khar.
They were able to gather the support of 250 people who signed the petition to save these trees in Khar and surrounding areas. Preerna Jaswal, another resident, also agrees that development cannot be at the cost of the environment.
“We have to look for a more practical solution. Cutting of trees for widening of roads is not going to resolve the issue of congestion. If we start cutting trees like this, what are we leaving behind for our children to lead a healthy life?” she asked.