City environmentalists are upset over the sanction given by the NMMC for cutting 37 trees at Seawoods Integrated Complex that is being developed by L&T. They have launched a Chipko agitation against NMMC’s Tree Authority department to protest the decision and protect the environment.
The trees are located near Seawoods railway station, which is a part of the complex being developed. The station is also being transformed into a modern one by L&T as part of the conditions laid down by CIDCO. It was expected to first complete the station work and provide modern amenities there, however, so far only the basic work has been done. There is only one side from which the passengers can approach the railway station. Physically challenged and senior citizens still face a lot of difficulties.
Even as the railway station work is incomplete and passengers continue to suffer, efforts are on to start the commercial shops and offices in the integrated complex. The process is on to get completion certificate from NMMC for them. NMMC too has started giving the requisite sanctions for the purpose.
Abha Ranware, an environmentalist, said, “The company has given in writing that it has planted 900 trees and hence it is expected to be given the completion certificate soon. However, there should be a proper inspection of the claim by environmentalists.”
Sameer Bagwan, a local Shiv Sena leader, said, “The NMMC had 15 years ago planted the trees along the footpath. The Peltophorum trees are now 15 to 16 feet tall. The company has sought permission to cut 37 such trees and the Tree Authority committee has immediately given permission for the same.”
He alleged, “The department had called for suggestions and objections on the decision through advertisements in local dailies. However, it had made sure that the advertisements are published in the dailies, which are not read by the Seawood local residents.”
With the trimming work on the trees having begun since the past two days, the environmentalists have decided to protest.
Bagwan said, “The intergrated complex work has adversely affected the environment. Now to ensure that the high rises are clearly visible, 37 trees are going to be destroyed.”
He added, “Since NMMC is supporting the contractor, we have decided on a peaceful agitation like the chipko movement. We will sit on dharna and give memorandums to raise our voice against this action.”
Though NMMC claims these trees will be replanted, activists say the trees will be destroyed in this process, as the success rate of replantation is poor. “Replantation if not done properly could lead to the trees dying. Moreover, gardens department officials failed to give proper reasons for cutting the trees,” said Anarjit Chauhan, an RTI activist.
It shows the carelessness of the officers as the permission has been granted by the NMMC tree committee which did not even carry out a survey before granting the approval, Chauhan added.
Tushar Pawar, NMMC garden department head, said that the department will look into the issue and check how many trees actually need to be cut if they are proving to be obstacles in the construction. There will not be any unnecessary cutting.”