A 45-YEAR-OLD woman died on Thursday morning after a tree fell on her head while she was sitting on a bench outside a garden in Chembur. The deceased, Sharda Ghodeswar, who worked as a help, succumbed to the injuries she sustained due to the impact of the fall. The incident took place five months after Kanchan Nath (58), a former anchor with Doordarshan, died after a tree fell on her in Chembur area. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) that carried out a probe after the incident had said Nath died due to a windstorm and did not blame anyone.
Senior inspector Shashikant Mane said Sharda, a resident of Trombay, worked as a help in a few buildings near Diamond Garden in Chembur. “On Thursday around 11 am, as she was on her way to work, she sat on a bench installed by the BMC on the footpath outside the garden at Chembur. A Gulmohar tree, at some distance from the bench, fell on her head,” Mane said.
He said the falling tree, which was 35-40 feet away from the woman, killed her instantly. She was taken to Shatabdi hospital where she was declared dead on arrival. Soon, the local Govandi police station was informed and the police took an Accidental Death Report (ADR). “When we reached the spot and checked the tree trunk from where it uprooted, we found it was hollow as it had been eaten up by termites,” Mane said. He added: “We are checking if it happened on account of negligence on the part of anyone. We have sought reports from the BMC to determine that. If during investigation, we find that there had been negligence on the part of anyone, an FIR will be registered. Investigations are on.”
Local residents said Sharda is survived by her husband, Sahdev, and three children.
On Thursday, Sahdev and his sons stood teary-eyed outside the morgue of a government hospital where a post-mortem was being conducted. Sahdev said, “I am a painter and I do not manage to earn something everyday. Sometimes, I am left without any work and hence, Sharda had been working to support the family. I spoke to her minutes before she died. It is so tough to believe what has happened.”
Their teenaged children are Sumit, Sushant and Swapnali.
Abhijit Samant, a member of the BMC tree committee and the corporator of Andheri, said, “In the tree committee, we have demanded that a census of trees should not just include numbering, but type, condition and age of a tree. Also, we have been demanding strengthening of the ward-level tree cutting team. Workers who are responsible for maintaining and pruning trees are above 40 years of age and most of them refuse to climb the trees. The civic body should have started surveying trees across the city after the death of former DD anchor Kanchan Nath and taken appropriate action.”
Raja Shetty, an activist and a resident of Diamond Garden at Chembur, said, “BMC’s report had blamed wind for the falling of the tree that killed Kachan Nath. Who will they blame this time? Cyclone Ockhi? The BMC is not taking the issue seriously. An FIR should be filed against the civic gardens department for negligence.”
Chembur corporator Mahadev Shivgan said, “The tree looked fine from outside. But I got a report from the residents that it was hollow and weak as it had been eaten up by termites. Tress across the city need to be examined and checked thoroughly. Checking from the outside and giving a clean chit can be dangerous. This is the second case of death by tree fall in just five months. I will take up the issue with the BMC commissioner.”
Despite several attempts, Jitendra Pardeshi, the superintendent of garden department of the BMC, did not respond.