Metro-III: Transplanted trees found dead, say activists

Mumbai: Environmentalists who accompanied the Bombay High Court (HC)-appointed committee for tree inspection are upset with the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRCL), which has undertaken the Metro-III (Colaba—Bandra—SEEPZ) project.

According to activists, the authority has failed to take proper care of the trees that had been transplanted to alternative sites to clear the way for Metro-III route. Most transplants have been found to be dead or on the verge of dying, they alleged.

Zoru Bhathena, the activist and petitioner who was present at the inspection, questioned, “If the authority can use world class technology for metro construction work, why can’t it use the same approach to care for these trees? At every visit, the percentage of dead trees keeps rising, this is what we have found. Transplantation has not been done properly.”

The Free Press Journal had in September reported how tree transplantations cost an arm and a leg. According to a report by MMRCL’s general consultant, it costs Rs 50,000 to transplant one tree.

The cost of transplanting a tree depends on its girth. Since the average girth of a tree is 0.75 metres, this is the estimate that has been used in the report to determine the cost.

Bhathena informed, this was the committee’s ninth visit since May 2017. Moreover, as per the direction of the HC, four times a year, the inspection committee has been visiting the transplant sites and submitting a report after every visit.

The HC had initiated this inspection, taking into consideration the objections raised by tree-lovers.The committee is conducting a three-day visit and, in the last two days, it has inspected 23 station sites.

On Tuesday, it visited Aarey and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, where trees have been transplanted from the Metro-III project. Bhathena said, in Aarey, about 1,060 trees had been transplanted, of which 680 trees (64%) were found to have perished.