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  Home >> Gardens, Playgrounds & Trees >> Meeting on Gardens and Trees held on 10th Jan. 2006


  Meeting on Gardens and Trees held on 10th Jan. 2006 at 3:30 pm at the Karmayog Office and at 5:00 pm at MCGM Seminar Room, Annexe Building  

(Second part i.e. at BMC office)  

Thos present:    Mr.Naringrekar, Superintendent of Gardens

                        Mr.Vani, Deputy Supt. of Gardens, Western Suburbs – Andheri

                        Rishi Aggarwaal, MESN

                        Rajendra Agarwal, Green Guard and Rotarian

                        Tushar Desai, Bombay Rose Society

                        S. Kothawala, Jhunjhunwala Foundation

                        R. P. Ruia, Rotarian

                        Mark Sheehey- Horticulturist, Clean Air Island , EU Asia Urbs Project

                        Supriya Desai, Horticulturist, Clean Air Island

Sudhir Badami

Milind Alondekar & Ramesh Kadam from Aakar, Ragpickers NGO

Vinay Somani, Karmayog

Atul Inamdar, Karmayog / NGO Council

Tanya Mahajan, volunteer Karmayog


V:         We have listed out issues regarding gardens and trees – today we will discuss these issues, and from these, which ones we can work collaboratively with MCGM and, MCGM could tell us their limitations in working.

Even if we have complaints, we must come with suggestions of what can be done together.  

Rajendra: Mumbai has only 0.02% green cover as compared to the globally accepted norm for cities of 10-15%. We need to have a Policy to include greening our city.  

Supriya: We have a composting and greening project on DN Rd from Crawford Market to Fountain.  

Mr.Kothawala: I represent the Jhunjhunwala Foundation, we have got a plot from CIDCO that we are developing. We run several schools and colleges.  

Rishi: I represent MESN – we need radical change in the actual working of the Tree Authority. It is an issue of governance. The TA has a budget of 20 crores, but no plan for the next 10-20 years for the city.  

V: I had drawn up a larger agenda, for a larger group to discuss at this meeting. One of the ideas the NGO Council is trying is how to make citizens feel involved in issues such as this. If citizens were to identify where trees/shrubs could be planted and MCGM gives the permissions for these, then Rotary, ALMs etc. can take on the task of buying saplings, planting, watering and maintaining. Principally is MCGM agreeable to this?  

N: principally we agree. Permission is given by the TA for adoption – also for planting – and putting up a board for the sponsor.  

V: Is there a policy for this? What is the procedure?  

N: There has not been much response to this; we could use your help. The procedure is to write a letter, a site visit is then conducted to ascertain whether any utilities such as electric pole, cables, etc would be affected, or road is to be widened – for this the letter is sent to the CE-Roads for his remarks.  

Mark - We submitted a plan to the BMC for permissions – it’s not too much of a problem to get it cleared.  

V: is there a written policy?  

N: We can paper it.  

Rajendra: We had applied for road adoption under the Re.1 adoption scheme – after 1 year we still haven’t got the permission – its very difficult to follow up – we need one place, like Karmayog, where we can apply and then follow up.  

N: For the beautification of the divider, footpath and traffic islands, the CE-Roads is to be approached, not the Garden Dept. It was formerly with us, but has been discontinued. The CE-Roads gives the permission, and then implementation is with the AMC at Ward level, so follow up has to be there.

We are working and thinking of coming out with a comprehensive policy for beautification of roads, etc.  

Rajendra: What about encroachment of footpaths? We wanted to adopt 3-4 footpaths, I spent a lot of time at your office, but it was of no use.  

Rishi:    I have another example of a personal experience: Sanjay Monga from Lokhandwala has been trying for 8 months to get permission to cut 2 dead trees from Medha Gogate, Horticultural Assistant at K-Ward office, but the permission has yet to come. It seems to be more difficult to cut dead trees. Personal interaction and bribes need to be cut out – there is a need for a standard policy.  

N:        There is a policy: make an application to the AMC of your Ward who will send the horticultural assistant to inspect the site and determine if it’s necessary to cut the tree. This is forwarded to the Asst.Supt. of Gardens at the Zonal office and for a second opinion it is shown to a member of the Tree Authority of that area who may also visit the site. Papers are then sent with the AMC’s recommendations to the Supt.of Gardens (who doesn’t inspect the site) – he forwards it to the MC who is the Chairman of the TA – the permission is then sent directly to the party with copies to the ward office, etc.

The Friends of Trees is called if felt necessary, not always.  

Rajendra: what is the time limit for the procedure?  

N: 60 days  

Rishi: What happens if permission not granted in 60 days? Is it deemed granted?  

N:        yes  

V:         Would you like us to recommend a simplification in procedures, for instance it need not go to the MC?  

N: yes, you can go for suggestions for procedural simplifications. The Tree Act of 1975 does not have Rules and regulations, and this needs to be taken up on a priority basis, i.e. the implementation of the Act.  

For. eg.: the pruning of trees – in the absence of Rules, all permission is by the Tree Authority, not by the Tree Officer. We need Rules with specifications that will simplify the Tree Act.  

V:         We should suggest simplifications.  

N:        The Implementation of the Act in the form of Rules and Regulations needs to be done.  

The UD Dept. has deputed the Dir (Eng), the Supt. ( Eng. ) Planning – who have held meetings – worked on Draft Rules – this will be sanctioned by the Legal Dept. then passed by both Houses and then published. Hence you should have communication with the Chief Secretary, UD Dept. of GoM.  

Rajendra: Do you have a plan to increase greenery?  

N:        1) whatever place is available, we are planting

            2) saplings distribution in monsoon

            3) there is a provision in the Tree Act, that every Society/plot (new and old) should have trees planted for greening: 2 trees/100 sq.m and 5 trees for areas greater than 100 sq.m  

Rishi:    A lot of new buildings are in violation of this.  

N: That is a larger issue  

V: Is it possible to involve Ngo’s to protect.  

N: All NGO’s are supposed to do it. Any person can lodge a complaint with the Police, but no one does it. They point a finger to the Tree Authority. Police also says go to the Tree Authority.  

Rishi:    Lets take a case – the LBS Marg – we went to the MMRDA – and Tree Authority – and were kept shuttling between Mr.Naringekar and Mr.Deshinkar – we got no help from the Tree Authority. At our public meeting on 7th Nov., we realised that the stipulated procedure was not followed. There are laws on paper, compliance is important.  

V: what is your suggestion?  

Rishi: At the start of the year, list of the permissions granted for tree cutting on the BMC website and where the Tree Officer is scheduled to visit on which date. There should be transparency.  

N:        The applications for tree cutting have no time limit and keep coming in. We do put the notices on the trees but they are torn out.  We can’t keep putting the applications on the website.  

Rishi: It’s such a necessary procedure – no one can object.  

V: We are trying to understand the procedural difficulties they are facing and then suggest changes in procedure; plus involve civil society so that its is implementable.  

N:        We can take your suggestion.  

Rishi:    We want to know on the website: who has been given permission to cut 10,000 trees, etc.  

N:        Only MUTP and MUIP are the large scale projects that require tree cutting. Else the numbers that we deal with are small.  

Mark: The positives that come from this group, we must tie in to that positive energy and find a way of civic participation.  

N:        One year back we appointed Green Guards to help increase and protect the greenery. We got a very poor response.  

Rejandra:          You had 2 meetings in 3 years. One with Mr.Velodi and one with Ms. Godrej.  

V:         We need a note on the Green Guards concept: what it is and why it has failed.  

Rishi: I am also a green guard without a card.  

Rajendra:          What is the plan for greening Mumbai? Could you suggest that 5% of the Mill lands could be reserved for open space and planting?  

N:        Mill lands are addressed at higher levels.  

V:         Is there a 1-5 year plan for Mumbai?  

N:. There is no plan. But as per our 1976 survey of tree on roads, there were 33,000 trees. Today there are 2,00,000. It is now difficult to plant on roads, no space left – utility lines. Hence only vacant plots are left and areas such as ND zones, Collector’s land, MbPT (who own 33% of Mumbai’s land) – you should interact with them.  

Rajendra:          We need to identify some areas where trees can be planted.  

Mr.Ruia:           We need to understand each other’s working.  

V:         Do you have a mechanism for greening Mumbai in 1-3 years?  

Rajendra:          My suggestion is that at the Maharashtra Govt. level it should be decided that for the area of Mumbai, this % should be greened.  

V:         Who will make this plan?  

Rajendra:          The Gardens Dept.  

V:         We need to suggest a way for us to correspond.  

Mark:  We could make a Core group of people with experience.  

V: The idea is to bring issues to the table with any suggestions that we may have – understand why BMC is not doing what we think is obvious and then we make our suggestions, demands, requirements from BMC.  

Mark: What you are saying is very valid – to understand the limitations/restrictions in their operations and use the experiences of civic people working together to achieve long term goals. There must be sharing of information on both sides, and we should be positive rather than negative.  

V:         Mr.Naringekar has given us a lot of information – that itself is a beginning of the process of opening up. That info is in the Gardens section in  

R. P. Ruia:        We would like the BMC to earmark areas that can be adopted by NGO’s –we have 116 Rotary Clubs, we would like to adopt gardens, etc.  

V:         BMC has given us a list of location-wise areas available for adoption and also the procedure to be followed for adoption.  

Sudhir: What about those already adopted?  

N:        That is not in this list.  

Mr.Ruia:           We will adopt all in 6 months.  

N:        we have 3 Zonal officers in Andheri, Byculla and Mulund who will assist you if you approach them for adoption of a plot, or foresting a plot.  

Rajendra:          What all is to be done in an adopted plot?  

N:        Development of the plot as a garden depending on whether it is a Garden, PG or RG. In Gardens, no construction allowed: only lawns, hedges, edges, trees, paths, play equipment, flower beds and a 10’ X 10’ mali ’s chowky.  

Rajendra: The adopter has to bear the cost?  

N:        Total responsibility is with the adopter, who can put up boards as specified.  

V: The detailed policy is available on the website. There is a proposed policy change, so we can give suggestions. BMC has also introduced changes to prevent some areas from being cornered by clubs who then restrict access to the public to those areas.  

N: The revised policy is based on all our experiences as well as the views of NGOs. For adoption also, no construction is allowed and 80% of the plot must be open to public and the local people will get a preference in adopting, so that there is a sense of ownership. This criteria/marking system for adoption is there in the new policy.  

Mr.Ruia: But your adoption policy is still not receiving a good response.  

N: We have ourselves approached Rotary, BCCI, MCI, etc and got a very poor response.  

V: BMC is saying that Rotary is not coming forward despite their policy. If procedure is the problem, we can suggest changes.  

Rajendra: When we went for a request, we were given an out of the way plot in Mulund.  

N:        We don’t force any plot on to you- we respond to your request for a specified plot.  

V: What are the expenses involved – both one-time and recurring?  

N: That depends on how you develop the plot.  

V: Can we have a workshop with your officers and interested persons?  

N: Sure, we can have a workshop. We are also thinking of a policy on “colony gardens” for large colonies like LIC, Air India , etc where 8-10 buildings/societies can develop the Municipal Garden in their area. The Local residents association takes up the developed garden for further maintenance and treats it like their garden. We will work out the recurring expenditure and 75% of this will be borne by the BMC, and 25% by the LRA. We are working on this concept.  

Rajendra: Will water be provided free?  

N: 3 lit/sq.m. is given free. Water requirements depend on what you plant. Street lights expense will also be borne by the BMC. For water, we have suggested rain water harvesting or bore wells.  

Mr.Ruia: Why this policy is not working is that the Corporates who have money are not willing to adopt themselves, hence NGO’s adopt. But the existing BMC Rules don’t allow the sponsor to get any publicity – the adopting body, ie the NGO only can display its board.  

Rishi: This is a good practical suggestion.  

Mr.Ruia: The BMC should be only concerned with the development of the garden and not the value that the sponsor takes from it.  

V: From the point of view of the NGO Council, we are not entirely in agreement with this, since it leads to a commercialisation of Mumbai. We need to have specified norms for public-private partnership.  

Rishi: In the suburbs, Raheja has taken up all the road dividers on Link Road . If they had waited for an ALM to be formed, this would not have happened.  

N: It is understood that the local Ngo, citizen group needs to have ownership of any initiative in that area.  

Sudhir: It should be ownership of society, not of an individual.  

V: Saplings, etc should be given to societies, schools, ALMs, etc not individuals.  

N: Green Guards were supposed to identify areas/societies where trees were to be planted that BMC would have provided. Green Guards were also supposed to report tree cutting incidents.  

Rishi: the willingness to plant trees is more important than the cost of the sapling.  

Tushar:What is the cost of a tree guard?  

N: Anything between rs.300-900 – BMC doesn’t provide.  

Rishi: Unless the Councillor is involved.  

Mr.Kothawala: Can we ensure that incidences such as the LBS marg don’t happen again? That without public participation, such decisions are not taken.  

N: This is already happening through the Courts.  

Rishi: Even this morning some lopping of branches is going on at LBS.  

N: The TA is different from the Planning Authority. We just have to check the competent authority’s approval. At our level, we cannot check their plans.  

Rishi: Its is fundamentally a planning error.  

V: Rishi, can you circulate your learnings from the LBS Marg incident, so that to prevent further such incidents, what are the things to do – even by citizens of that area who can see that road widening will take place soon?  

Tushar: Let’s interact at the planning level.  

Rishi: the UDD and MMRDA have a bigger impact on greening Mumbai than the Tree Authority.  

N: We can send Draft to MMRDA for suggestions.  

V: We have at this stage an MoU with BMC, and not with MMRDA so let’s not be too hopeful.  

N: We tried to save many of the trees under MUIP, MUTP. We need to work out suggestions before planning on how the planning should be done with trees, and send this to the appropriate forum.  

Mr.Kothawala: What is your wish list from us?  

N:        1) adoption of plots

            2)Adoption of roads

            3) Dialogue with Govt. for foresting of ND zones, collector’s land, etc

            4) Encouraging MbPT, WR, CR, etc to undertake tree plantation.  

Mr.Ruia: There should be second water pipeline (of non-potable water) for greening purposes only. We could fund this.  

N: Our new policy states that water should be sourced from:

            1) recycled sewage water

            2) Rain water harvesting

            3) bore wells

BMC will provide 3 l/sq.m also.  

Sudhir: We should not make a forest of Mumbai – there should be balancing of landscape, else the space becomes un-utilisable.  

V: We need to take a holistic view.  

N: In the last few years, the BMC doesn’t give Occupancy Certificate unless the mandatory trees are planted.  

Tushar: There is an increase in the number of trees in Mumbai, but the other pressures of population, pollution, etc don’t make it felt.  

Rishi: That is debatable – under MUTP, so many good trees are gone.  

N: Under MUTP/MUIP, we had considered their proposals for roads, where they had made provisions for new plantation – we specified which trees are to be planted, their location, a condition that 10 ft. high trees will be planted and maintained for 3 years.

For the colony gardens’ proposal, we have also decided to empanel landscape architects.  

Mr.Vani: We are targeting MHADA colonies which are the most neglected.  

N: There is often no security at Municipal gardens, hence vandalism occurs. If NGO’s or local citizens could come forward and provide security, BMC could better maintain its gardens.  


V: Rajendra has volunteered to be the coordinator of this group. Please suggest experts and concerned people to approach for joining in the core group and the larger group.

It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. --Charles Dudley Warner