After furore, Tree Authority member quits

Unhappy: Activists and civil society members stage an agitation over the Tree Authority granting approval to cut trees in Aarey colony to pave way for the Metro car shed, on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Vijay Bate

After the citywide furore over the nominated experts of the Tree Authority giving their approval for the felling of 2,646 trees in Aarey colony for making way for the Metro 3 car shed, a member on the panel stepped down in protest on Saturday.

WWF-India member and Mithibai College professor Shashirekha Sureshkumar said she was under the impression that the members were voting to adjourn the meeting held on Thursday.

While three experts on the panel voted in favour of the proposal, two were absent. Of the three, Subhash Patne made it clear that he approved the proposal as it was in favour of the development of the Metro project.

When the panel’s final decision was made public, it evoked criticism from activists and civil society groups as the experts were nominated to keep a check on the rampant permissions given for cutting trees by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

On Saturday, Ms. Sureshkumar submitted her resignation to the panel via an email sent to the BMC. Speaking to The Hindu, Ms. Sureshkumar said, “We were not forced by anybody to vote. We were told that there would be a vote just before the meeting. During the meeting, Yashwant Jadhav was speaking loudly and there was some chaos. I do not understand if someone speaks Marathi very rapidly. When the vote happened, I thought I was voting for an adjournment and that is why I said ‘yes’. I have worked to preserve trees all my life. How can I go against something I have stood for? That is why I have submitted my resignation.”

‘Not given enough time’

According to Ms. Sureshkumar, after becoming members of the panel, the experts were taken to visit the Metro car shed site in Aarey colony twice, but they were shown the same spot. She claimed that they were not given sufficient time to assess the entire area.

She said, “We found discrepancies in the names of trees in the inventory. We had also given a number of suggestions such as saving heritage trees and those that are taller than 50 feet. None of those were considered.”

Meanwhile, city residents staged another protest at Aarey colony’s picnic point on Saturday morning. The protesters held placards condemning the BMC and appealed to the civic body to save Aarey. A similar protest will be organised on Sunday.

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Printable version | Nov 23, 2021 7:30:20 PM |

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