March 12, 2017 1:44:55 am
HOPING TO quell the continuing protests by activists against the large-scale felling of trees for Metro 3, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) is set to employ the services of an arborist at a whopping USD 33,000 per month. An arborist is a person trained in the science of planting, caring for and maintaining trees.
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Converted to Indian currency, the emoluments add up to Rs 21,94,000. This is in addition to a maximum accommodation allowance of Rs 10,80,000 for his six-month stay, as well as reimbursements for four international round trips totalling Rs 1,20,000.
Simon Leong, a super specialist in horticulture from Singapore, has been deployed for six months as part of the general consultant for Metro 3, Maple Consortium, to look into the tree planting and compensatory transplantation. He will be tasked with ensuring that all the contractors discharge their responsibility towards tree plantation following due processes. According to the MMRC, this will be the first time in India that an arborist will be consulted by a metro implementing body.
“When the citizens are concerned about the trees, it is our responsibility to allay their fears. They feel that MMRDA has not had a successful track record with transplantation. So, with his super specialisation in horticulture, we can do everything properly and get a better success rate. A specialist always charges high fees and our willingness to pay it should be a reassurance to our citizens that we are bent upon the task before us,” said SK Gupta, Director, Projects, MMRC. Gupta added, “We wanted to have the best in the field for this project and looking at Leong’s education and expertise, we found him to be the right choice. Also, our people will learn from him while working with him on the project. Along with tree plantation, there will also be skill development.”
Meanwhile, tree activists have obtained a stay from the Bombay High Court over all tree cutting activities for the metro and have sought for a committee to look into the matter. Zoru Bhatena, one of the activists, said, “They cut the trees in the beginning of February and were supposed to conduct compensatory transplantation within 30 days. But we are yet to see the new trees. If the MMRC has hired a consultant, the work should begin.”
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