Following the death of Sharda Ghodeswar by a sudden tree fall in Chembur last week, questions were raised about the casual and unscientific inspection that the city civic authority conducts. The various causes experts quoted were haphazard cutting, over concretization and planting of non native trees in the city. The city civic body BMC has a dedicated tree authority whose role is to protect and preserve the trees in Mumbai and take action against illegal tree cutting and trimming. However, information has come to fore that the authority does not have a single tree expert as its member and all the decisions are taken only by elected civic representatives from various parties.The BMC’s Tree Authority has 15 members including ivic chief Ajoy Mehta. The present tree authority was made in March 2017 after the BMC elections and has 6 members of Shiv Sena, 5 members of BJP, two from Congress and one from NCP. While, all 10 positions for the tree experts are lying vacant.”The state government’s social forestry department does not have any registered NGO in Mumbai zone to select tree experts from them”, said Sanvi Tandel, Shiv Sena corporator who head’s the BMC’s Garden committee. “The authority can be run under the chairmanship of municipal commissioner”, Tandel added.While, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Gardens), Kishore Kshirsagar said, “Till last year, the tree authority had passed a resolution that tree experts can be appointed from the NGO’s by putting ward wise notices. However, this authority has not yet passed any such resolution and thus the positions of the tree experts are vacant”.”If the tree authority, who is responsible for taking all decisions on trees in Mumbai has no expert, a person who will scientifically raise concerns on green cover, give opinion on tree cutting, trimming and transplantation from a technical and botanical angle, how will the decisions be partial ? A tree authority without a tree expert makes no sense at all. The political parties just don’t want any environmentalists interference in their decisions on haphazard tree cutting for their upcoming projects because of which they are not filling the positions reserved for experts”, said Zoru Bathena an environment activist who has been fighting against extensive tree cutting for metro projects in Mumbai.TREE TALKMANOJ KOTAKBJP group leaderNo NGO’s fit in the norms laid by the state government on the tree experts recruitment which includes forestation experience and many others. That is why till now no experts are appointed. Last year, we had relaxed the criterias and had appointed the members. But this year, we are yet to take the decision if to relax the norms because of which as of now there are no tree experts in the authority”.VISHWANATH MAHADESHWARMayorThe appointment of tree experts in the tree authority is important. The experts have their opinions are also necessary while taking any decision by the tree authority. The tree authority last year did have experts and we will see that the appointment of the tree experts in this tree authority is done soon”.DR NILESH BAXIAn enviornmentalist and former member of tree authority allegedDecisions like appointing tree experts as members, tree cutting, trimming and transplantation is just a political racket. All the decisions are taken for money and profit. All the political party members are anti-naturalists. They don’t want an expert as a member as they will put down their feet on every project and they don’t want any interference.ONE, TWO, TREE29.75lakh Total trees in Mumbai13.9lakh Native trees15.8lakh Non-native trees450 Variety of treesMORE NUMBERS2 times a year BMC conducts audit of trees939 Tree collapse incidences in city this year4 Death due to tree fall this yearWHY DO TREES COLLAPSE?Over concretisation Paving Damage of roots while laying the utilities Improper and loose earth filling after laying utilities Improper trimming causing the tree to loose its balance No modern equipment to find out tree health

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BMC Tree Authority an only neta club as tree expert slots lie vacant