Objecting to the proposed felling of trees to make way for a jogging track in along the Powai Lake, the Plant and Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), a Mumbai-based NGO, on January 29 wrote to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) authorities demanding a public hearing on the issue. Sunish Subramanian, head of PAWS, said,
“The jogging track is not needed at the lake. Many gardens have been developed by Hiranandani builders, which could be used for the purpose.”
“We have written to the municipal commissioner, local corporator and the tree officer, but the authorities have not replied the letter as yet,” added Subramanian. “The notices that a particular tree would be felled have been put up as high as seven ft on tree trunks. They are not visible from the road. It is an effort to avoid objection from public,” he said. Over 25 such notices have been put up in the area.
Congress corporator from the area Anjali Darade said, “The issue was raised during a meeting with the BMC in May 2007, but nothing has been done ever since.” Darade said she had warned the authorities about the shrinking lake area and had demanded desilting. She, however, denied having information about planting trees to compensate for the loss due to the track.
Debi Goenka of Conservation Action Trust, said, “The track can be constructed without felling trees. Jogging on curvy tracks should not be a problem.” Director of Young Environmentalists Programme, Elsie Gabriel said re-planting the trees somewhere else was not a suitable option, as the survival rate of such trees was poor.
Garden superintendent VS Dande denied having information about the matter.
Municipal commissioner Jairaj Phatak was not available for comments.