There seems to be a lack of coordination among civic officials, regarding measurements as well as categorising the city’s green cover. The number of gardens has reduced to just 167 this year from 199 in 2015, according to the civic administration’s Environmental Status Report (ESR). Even the number of trees planted by NMMC seems to be in dispute as the ESR puts the figure at 300 against the civic claims of 10,000
Gardens have been termed an important factor for increasing the green cover of the city. But there seems to be good news. According to the ESR report, in spite of the number of gardens reducing, the area covered is 8,31,955 sq m, higher than last year’s figure of 7,32,662 sq m.
“It is unclear whether the ESR report is faulty or the officials are withholding information. Even the garden’s sq m area doesn’t tally,” said activist Anarjit Chauhan.
The civic officials explained that there has been a drop in the number of gardens, as the open spaces and tree belts have been classified into separate categories in the 2015-16 report.
“Until last year, even the smallest patch of land was classified as gardens to prevent encroachment. But this year, they have been categorized separately. There has been an increase in the area as even Digha and MIDC region have been included this year,” said Tushar Pawar, deputy commissioner (garden).
The nature of confusion continues even in case of the number of trees planted as well.
While civic officials have been claiming that they have planted around 10,000 trees at a cost of Rs 1.38crore in 2015-16, the ESR report states that only 300 trees were planted in Koparkhairane ward.
Civic sources have claimed that the figure of 300 trees is a printing error. But officials also stated that they couldn’t plant many trees in 2015-16 due to non-availability of space and work undertaken in 2014-15.
“We had planted 7,420 trees across various wards and in the Thane-Belapur belt in 2014-15. This year, we were unable to find adequate space to carry out more plantations. In the current financial year, the number of plantation will increase considerably due to the Central government’s vision of increasing the green cover,” said an official from the garden department.