A superintendent of the Garden and Trees department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday told the Bombay High Court that prompt action of trimming trees, particularly in the monsoon season, was crucial to avoid any untoward incident.
Activist Zoru Bhathena had moved the high court last week, seeking orders to restrain BMC officers and contractors from cutting or damaging any tree without obtaining permission from the Tree Authority of Mumbai or the municipal commissioner, as per the guidelines. The petitioner told the court that in the past month, the trees department has gone on a tree-hacking spree throughout the city. “The officers of the trees department and their contractors are hacking and damaging practically every tree they can lay their hands on. A large number of trees have been completely cut under the excuse that those trees were dead or dangerous,” the petition.
An affidavit — filed by Jitendra V Pardeshi, superintendent of garden and trees department — said that trimming was important for the preservation and protection of trees, adding that it fell within the duties of the department. “Trimming of trees is the act of maintenance of the tree by pruning away irregular or unwanted parts. The regular trimming is important for the life and safety of trees and also in the interest of the safety of trees and public at large,” stated the affidavit.
The affidavit added that the trimming of the trees was also carried out to clear the view of street light poles, to clear the view of traffic signals, guiding road signs/boards, to facilitate smooth flow of vehicles, and for passage of BEST buses and emergency vehicles. The affidavit also claimed that over the years, repeated requests were received from authorities like the Railways, MSEB, Reliance Energy, TATA powers, and Airport Authority to trim the branches that were in the vicinity of high-tension wires, pentagrams, electric supply, and the ones that were obstructing the landing of aircrafts.
“In heavy rains and gusty winds, the trees may become dangerous due to the irregular growth of certain branches… It hampers these services and more importantly poses a threat to the life and safety of the public at large,” the affidavit stated. “Prompt action with respect to the trimming of such trees, particularly in the monsoon season, is crucial for avoiding any mishap or untoward incident,” the department said in the affidavit.