Zoru Bhathena on the incorrect pruning of trees in Mumbai

Zoru Bhathena on the incorrect pruning of trees in Mumbai

In the recent past, Mumbai has been under the scanner for rapid deforestation propagated by the city. Environmentalists across Mumbai have objected to the felling and hacking of trees incorrectly under the pretext of its pre-monsoon tree trimming exercise which further axes the trees in the locality. People living in Mumbai have also alleged that due to lockdown, the contract workers who are only supposed to prune the trees have got a free hand in the absence of supervision by the civic officials. The team of Mumbai live got in touch with Zoru Bhathena, an environmental activist, to ask some questions about the increasing environmental concerns across the city.

What according to you should be the scientific way of pruning trees?

Pruning of a tree is very different from the axing of it. It is how you would do your hair, little by little. It is healthy for the tree as it allows it to grow better. However, the hacking of trees is not correct. It should only be done by people who have technical knowledge. Also, for that, the BMC needs to give permission.

How has lockdown impacted the environment?

As a consequence of the lockdown, there is nobody to check. The BMC staff are on other duties so there is no supervisory staff to keep the pruning of trees in check. At the same time, they need to do pre-monsoon trimming as that is required. So, work is going on but there is no supervision. No checks or balances. That is the problem.

The government has decided to not use Plaster of Paris for the idols this year. What is your take on it?

Plaster of Paris is a problem and causes huge environmental issues but the issue is more about the human mind-set. For example, last year in Delhi, people wanted to have immersions in the Yamuna. The government announced that the people cannot immerse the idols in the Yamuna. They enforced It and it worked. So, the issue is not Plaster of Paris but to make sure that things do not go haywire to implement the process.

Should there be a separate committee to overlook these problems, especially with the recent environmental issues?

See, for anything we need checks and balances. If those checks and balances work well then we are not in a problem. The issue lies with the departments. The departments should be proper, they should be well-trained and they should be knowledgeable enough to know if the work they are doing is correct or not as any amount of supervision would be of no use if the person is not good. Hence, the person who is doing the job should do it honestly. Then you do not need committees to supervise them.

What do you think should be the ideal way to spread awareness about pruning as people generally tend to mistake it for the axing or felling of trees?

That is very true. Very few people know about this. There is no system or knowledge. You ask ten experts they will tell you ten different things. However, every place you go to has trees, so by now, people should know what should be the ideal way to take care of trees. Unfortunately, there is no system. So people who are being handed over such activities should be trained and licensed, just like a driver would need a license to drive on the roads.

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