Residents to join MMRDA on a green initiative

Dhanya Nair

Posted: Mar 01, 2009 at 0347 hrs IST

Mumbai Efforts on to ensure survival of 300 transplanted trees along Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road

In an attempt to give a fresh lease of life to the dying green cover in the area, the residents dwelling close to the Indian Institute of Technology at Powai have joined hands with the MMRDA (Maharashtra Metropolitan Development Authority) officials to ensure that around 300 transplanted trees survive despite the ongoing road-widening and improvement work on the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR)

“We wanted the whole issue to be settled amicably with the authorities. It is just not enough to make a lot of noise against the authorities. This time when we approached them they promised full support,” said Elsie Gabriel, one of the five members of the citizen monitoring committee set up by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority to monitor the widening and improvement of the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR).

The trees were cut during the first phase of the project. But the transplanting process started in January this year. While 200 trees were originally cut, an additional 229 have been replanted. “The officials implemented a very important clause of environmental law which advises the planting of four trees for every one which is cut. This way we ensured that the overall greenery in the area is not completely affected in the long run,” said Gabrial. There were around 200 full-grown trees in the 4-km section II of the extension from L&T Junction to the road over bridge about 500 metres from IIT-Powai. Now, the transplanted variety includes exotic species of trees like peepul, banyan, Pheltoforum, jackfruit, coconut, rain, acacia and other species.

Vikas Tondwalkar, head of the environment department at MMRDA, said that the transplanting of trees over the years had been a learning experience. “In 2002, we had transplanted around 82 trees at Aarey, but very few survived as locals took them away for fuel. This time, we carefully selected the site, provided security employed locals and ensured watering every alternate day,” said Tondwalkar. “We are also undertaking scientific methods to ensure that the success rate continues to grow. We will help the residents in regular maintenance of the belt,” added Tondwalkar.

Last week when the citizens’ committee accompanied World Bank officials to the site, they were pleasantly surprised to see the trees sprouting leaves. Encouraged by this success, the MMRDA is contemplating transplanting another 100 trees to replace trees that were axed in Arey colony. It has already planted over 500 saplings as compensation for the trees to be cut.

Additionally, the MMRDA will plant around 3,000 Astonia trees along the Western Express Highway to the L& T junction to ensure a green cover all along the route.