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Thane civic body to use digital photography for tree census

After stiff opposition from activists,the Thane Municipal Corporation has scrapped its ambitious project of conducting the tree census through Global Positioning System and Global Information System.

After stiff opposition from activists,the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) has scrapped its ambitious project of conducting the tree census through Global Positioning System (GPS) and Global Information System (GIS). Instead,it is now planning to opt for the manual census done with the help of digital photography.

“There were some objections raised by a section of people due to the cost factor. They had suggested us to check the census conducted by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). A report would be submitted accordingly to the TMC commissioner,” said Dr Sudhir Bhatankar,Deputy Municipal Commissioner of the TMC.

Tree census is done every five years and the last time the TMC conducted the census was in 2002-2003 and recorded around 3 lakh tress. The last manual census was done at a cost of Rs 2.5 per tree and the entire project cost came down to just Rs 9 lakh. After much postponement,the TMC decided to conduct a tree census in the city this year. Accordingly,the TMC floated tenders for conducting the census.

“The tender was awarded to a Mumbai-based company and it was said it would use modern technology to count trees in Thane. The company had quoted a price of Rs 25 per tree and the entire project was to cost Rs 1.25 crore,” said Pradeep Indulkar from JAAG,the organisation which opposed the move.

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“Cost factor was not the only issue here. There were many other issues like the data of earlier census was not being used in the present census.”

Similar type of counting with the help of GPS and GIS was also done in Badlapur and Ambernath.

JAAG also suggested the TMC to check the Pune model of tree census. The Pune Municipal Corporation had conducted tree census with the help of digital photography. “The project cost for the PMC was Rs 2.5 per tree as compared to Rs 25 per tree with the help of GPS,” said Indulkar.

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Meanwhile,the Mumbai-based agency,which was awarded the contract,has already completed 30 per cent of the work. “They have counted some 30 percent of the trees and it would cost us around Rs 25-30 lakh,” added Bhatanakar.

“The use of modern technology is welcome,but the cost is mind boggling when you have other effective means to conduct the census. It would have set a bad precedent as other urban local bodies and municipal corporations too would have followed the suit,” Indulkar added.

First published on: 03-11-2009 at 00:14 IST
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