Monday, February 17, 2014

Green and Gone

Someone has discovered that trees are dying in Mumbai, due to the concrete pavements where the cement is poured on the base of the trees too. This was something so basic that anyone would know, is what I thought. Apparently, No. The people here are so disconnected from nature. This tree cutting drive of the BMC and the construction giants is so cruel. To construct tall buildings, the ground is dug so deep that no tree has any chance of survival. The BMC cuts the branches of the trees which come towards the road. This misbalances the trees. The trees always grow with branches on both sides. The buildings block the sunlight and cut away the branches as they fall on the cars parked in the compound. The branches try to grow towards the road where it gets at least 12 feet of open space. The BMC does not believe in letting the trees from opposite sides of the road meet. They have their task of keeping the roads free of any canopy of trees. In addition to this, the trees are not supposed to cover any street lights. To make more money, the contractors put street lights really closely, the distances between the two poles is barely 15 -20 feet. This results in more tree cutting. The construction companies cut away the trees by digging and then start to plant some bushes at the entrance. They have to show that they are  all green and environment friendly. Some bougainvilleas and some palm trees at the entrance, is all that is needed to beautify a place to sell their sample flat. An average Mumbaikar just wants a flat in his budget and greenery be damned. In certain buildings, the residents actually requested removal of trees so it becomes open, concrete and safe. 
When BMC makes a garden, the first thing to go, is the trees. The jogging and walking tracks are cemented and an ugly metal play structure comes up with slides and hideous colours. How else will they BMC and contractors make money? The lighting is enough for a village fair or a small wedding. Now even the bushes are done away with, in case someone is lurking behind them. Reduced shrubbery and trees, lots of benches, concrete areas in middle of the park to stretch or host a show. When Shiv Sena wanted to beautify the Shivaji Park, they made it more concrete with huge concrete walls with Shivaji and Marathas, concrete structure of players with different kinds of games. Same I see at the newly developed garden at Majas depot on Jogeshwari Vikroli Link road. Even the garden near Colaba Bus depot has lost its trees and greenery. It is by the sea and the most beautiful place I knew. For years, I used to go there for walks, laughter class and just a stroll with friends. It was a botanical garden with a green house. One could not access the sea, except through the trees. Now all of it is cut and done away to make clean flat spaces. The lay of the land completely destroyed. 

Why I am feeling bad about the garden near my hostel destroyed, when I am sure people experience their houses being destroyed by this manic construction in Mumbai? "Anything that comes in the way, simply goes", this is the Mantra of the construction companies in Mumbai. Not one responsible green thing, I have seen them do. A few extra top floors are constructed without permission. They are then made legal over the years with money changing hands. Promises to residents are never ever kept by the builders. People say all the politicians Black money is parked with the builders, so they have the muscle  power. The BMC says that the department which is supposed to look into illegal buildings is very small and consists of six people. The laws are not strict enough and neither is the punishment big enough. The giant glass structure in front of our house which covers an area of three lanes, has not kept a single tree or planted a single tree. They have in fact moved the BEST bus stop away from Shiv Sena Bhawan. This making the walk longer for all the people using buses. But all this is at the will of the politicians, land developed by the politicians. 

Like certain local Mumbai based designers sell their clothes only to the politician brigade. It means they have ways and means to collect their dues from the politicians or get favours in exchange. What will the common man do in all this? Just expose these things with more specifics? The Mumbaikar is so busy making his ends meet and spending endless hours travelling on our potholes ridden roads, that a warm meal and a good sleep is all that he/ she wants at the end of the day. 





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