Metro III vs Trees: BMC chief embarrasses MMRCL by revealing poor survival rate of transplants

Mumbai: The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) was left red-faced on Thursday after city's municipal commissioner admitted 'poor' survival rate of trees transplanted by the former in lieu of the thousands of trees chopped down for paving ways for its controversial Metro III line. The civic commissioner suggested the MMRCL to plant three times more trees to compensate the trees, which died after transplantation.

Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi put forth the suggestions before a Bombay High Court appointed Tree Committee (TC) headed by Justice Amjad Sayed. This committee was formed by the then Chief Justice Manjula Chellur to look after all the issues pertaining to the transplantation of trees, uprooted for the Metro III line.

Appearing for the first time before the HC, Pardeshi said, “I admit that there has been a poor survival rate of the trees transplanted by the MMRCL and the same is unacceptable. Thus, I think the MMRCL must plant fresh trees instead of transplanting.”

“Pruning the trees first followed by cutting its roots and then transplanting a tree is the incorrect procedure,” Pardeshi said.

Pardeshi had been to the HC after Justice Sayed summoned him seeking explanation and suggestions on the poor survival rate of transplanted trees as only 36 per cent of such trees have survived in the last two years.

“I think to compensate the trees which are now dead, the MMRCL must be asked to plant three times more trees. The fresh plantation can be done at the sites which we (BMC) would identify for them. This would also help in beautifying the city,” Pardeshi said.

“Further, I think that we should reduce transplanting of trees and focus on planting fresh trees,” Pardeshi told Justice Sayed.

The civic commissioner further said that the MMRCL should focus on maintaining the transplanted trees for a longer period. “Initially, a transplanted tree might survive but would die later as the authority ignores it. But I think, the MMRCL can be asked to submit an undertaking that it would look after each such tree for a period of five to 10 years,” Pardeshi recommended.

Having heard the contentions of Pardeshi, Justice Sayed ordered activist Zoru Bhathena and the MMRCL officials to once again conduct a field visit and submit the fresh survival rate of trees.

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