After years of requests,Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has agreed to trim trees on private properties for a nominal fee. Currently,the civic body only trims trees on public properties and roads while owners of private residential and commercial properties are expected to do this themselves.
Tree-trimming is a crucial pre-monsoon safety measure to avoid fatal accidents during rains. According to BMC data,in the last five years,six persons have been killed and 94 injured in incidents of trees falling. Civic officials say untrimmed trees on private properties are largely (if not equally) responsible for this problem.
Citizens are charged a tree cess of 0.05 per cent on their property tax whether or not there are trees on the property. This can now be availed as a subsidised service in return for the tax paid, said Niranjan Shetty,nominated member of the tree authority.
Acquiring permission for trimming and appointing a private agency for the task are tedious and costly for citizens. It roughly costs them Rs 5,000 per branch. This way,BMC will not only help residents but will also be more accountable for tree-falling incidents during monsoon, he added.
Over the past couple of years,we have repeatedly asked municipal commissioners to also trim trees on private property. However,BMC declined to do so as it believed this would increase its expenditure. We have now proposed to provide this service at a fee, said Shetty.
We are presently closing a contract worth roughly Rs 25 crore for trimming trees on public land in every ward. We will extend the facility to a private property if an application has been filed and payment made at the local ward office. We will even assure transportation of the pruned branches outside the city limits, joint municipal commissioner S S Shinde,in-charge of the civic gardens department.
We are currently fixing the rate but it is likely to be an additional 20 per cent charge on the cost of trimming trees on public land taking into account labour and transportation costs, Shinde added.