In a bizarre move, the Shiv Sena has demanded that the city’s civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plant trees that are holy and sacred to the Hindu culture across the city. The curious demand comes from Hanumant Raje, a horticulturist and Sena nominated member of the Tree Authority of the civic body.
“The trees that are holy and sacred to the Indian culture should be planted in city as many of these trees that are referred in epics have medicinal values. Many youngsters in Mumbai don’t know about the trees such as the peepal, banyan, palash, rudrakasha and others,”Raje, who has been a member of the Tree Authority for three terms now, said.
His list of sacred trees includes the belpatra, bakul, khari, kadamba, deodar, ashoka, sweet lime, tamarind, sandalwood and arjun.”So, either a special garden should be made or places should be selected wherein all these trees can be planted across the city. Since these trees live about hundred years, it will be a big contribution to the city’s green cover as well,” he said.
Raje said that the civic body must plant such trees because it is difficult for people to cut them down and they will survive for a long time.
“There are absolutely no such trees in the city. So, it will be a gift to the next generation. I am hopeful that it will get an approval from the authority,” he said.
The proposal will be discussed in a meeting that will be held on Friday.
The Tree Authority of the civic body, headed by the municipal commissioner and consisting of experts and civic representatives, is mandated with regulating the felling of trees and providing for planting of adequate number of new trees in the city.
BMC officials say it’s possibly the first time they’ve received such a proposal.
“Since there is no such policy on what trees should be planted in city, the proposal will be discussed in the meeting to take a call on it. Normally, the tree plantation is done routinely based on the requests from locals and elected representatives,” an official from the civic body’s Garden Department said on condition of anonymity.
The official said that the civic body usually prefers to plant trees that require less water and are easy to maintain. According to the tree census carried out in 2008 by the civic body, there are 19 lakh trees across Mumbai.
However, a city environmentalist has slammed the move saying that Sena is unnecessarily giving religious colour to the planting of trees in the city.
“The Shiv Sena should keep aside their limited knowledge about trees and should allow the tree authority to take decisions in the best interest of the city. Sena, which is ruling the city for past two decades, should focus on upgrading the city’s infrastructure rather making such nonsense demands,” Rishi Agarwal, an environmentalist, said.