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This Independence Day, free a tree
Saturday, 15 August 2015 - 7:30am IST | Agency: dna | From the print edition Virat A Singh (/authors/virat-a-singh)
Aarey Conservation Group is urging Mumbaikars to take photos of trees 'choked' with concrete, post them on social media sites, and pressurise authorities to take action
In an initiative that could prove to be a boon for thousands of trees (/topic/trees) 'choking' in Mumbai due to callous concretisation, the Aarey Conservation Group (ACG) – a body comprising various NGOs (/topic/ngos) and environmentalists – is urging Mumbaikars to come forward and help them free the trees of Mumbai. The campaign will kick off on August 15.
“It is a common sight in Mumbai to find scores of trees, some of which took decades to grow to their size, choking to death simply because the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) did not ensure that the contractors adhered to basic rules while repaving roads or pavements. The concrete or paver blocks are laid in such a way that they are right up to a tree's neck,” said Stalin D, project director of NGO Vanashakti, one of the ACG members.
He added that all this was leading to trees being deprived of soil and moisture. “This damages roots and finally results in trees' death. The rigidity of the trunk on account of cementing also does not allow trees to be flexible to winds, making them prone to falling,” he said.
Explaining their campaign in detail, Stalin said they wanted to make use of the fervour around Independence Day (/topic/independence-day) for the cause of environment. The group will invite Mumbaikars to take pictures of 'choked' trees and forward them through email or post on social networking sites, so that these trees can be freed.
“People should mention the location of trees in detail, including a landmark, along with their names and contact details. ACG will collate this data and take it up with respective ward offices and the Tree Authority to ensure that the concrete around the trees is removed. We also plan to eventually upload details of the 'liberated' trees and names of their 'rescuers' on our website,” said Stalin.
The ACG, including members of Greenline, SPROUTS, National Environment Watch and AGNI along with several residents and environment enthusiasts, will start the campaign on August 15 and continue it depending upon the public response.
Environmentalist Sumaira Abdulali, who has taken pictures of around 250 such trees in Bandra, Khar, Santacruz and Juhu, welcomed the move. “I submitted my pictures to BMC, but nothing happened. But I feel if there is pressure from entire Mumbai, and there is a regular follow-up, the situation will improve. Mumbai is suffering due to loss of trees and green cover. There should be a pressure group that ensures that trees are saved,” she said.
“The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has already directed the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to remove within three months all the concrete around tree trunks and bases, create proper basins and ensure that no construction or repair work is done in that space. The BMC, however, is extremely sluggish. Nothing is being done,” said Stalin.
Earlier, Vanashakti had presented to BMC a 14-month study done in collaboration with Jhunjhunwala College's botany department, explaining that one of the main reasons behind the deteriorating condition of trees was extensive concretisation of their 'critical root zone'. The trees are then stressed for water and subsequently fall prey to pests and fungus. Concretisation also prevents aeration of roots and their interaction with soil, nutrients and moisture. The NGO is fighting the case in NGT, which has directed the BMC to clear all concrete, paving blocks and rubble around avenue trees and construct basins of nutrient-rich soil measuring 1x1x1m.
How can you help
Find a tree whose trunk is choked with concrete or paver blocks
Take a picture
Note the street name, area, location and a few landmarks to help identify the location of your tree (eg Padmavati Road, Near Westin Hotel, off the Western Express Highway, Goregaon (E), P South Ward_
Upload the image with details on Facebook page of Aarey Conservation Group (https://www.facebook.com/AareyConservationGrp) or tweet the picture and details on @ConserveAarey with #FreeTheTree or email the details on firstname.lastname@example.org
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