Pune tree-fall incidents double in a year, authorities caught dozing
The number has been steadily rising over the years.
Ketki Shukla | According to the city's Fire Department, the number of instances of trees falling across Pune nearly doubled between January and June of this year. The number has been steadily rising over the years. 145 cases of tree falling were recorded in the month of September alone as a result of high rainfall and wind events. However, the Pune Municipal Corporation's (PMC) Tree Authority asserts that it frequently tends to and maintains the trees around the city.
The month of June had 105 cases of tree falls in a single month, totaling 669 cases by the end of August 2022. According to information provided by the Fire Department, this year has seen close to 870 tree falls.
Due to above-average rainfall and thunderstorm damage in several regions of the city during this monsoon, there has been a significant rise in these incidents. Nearly 100 of these incidents were seen in the city on last Friday when the city was battered by strong winds and rain. Around 4:30 pm, a tree fell on Jagjit Singh Sangar (60) an auto driver, when he was in his vehicle in the Ramnagar neighbourhood of Yerwada. He was freed once the tree was cut down, but he passed away at the spot.
"We prioritise our aids according on the situation. We address these issues first if the tree is large and has fallen on a car with persons inside it or is obstructing traffic. Our objectives are to give first aid and restore normalcy. It can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes to perhaps two or three hours, depending on the size of the tree. We do our best to address such incidents with the least amount of disruption to the community, said Nilesh Mahajan, a firefighter in the control room of the Pune Fire Brigade.
This monsoon, there were many tree-fall occurrences in the city's Shivajinagar, BMCC road, Prabhat Road, Bhandarkar Road, Deccan Gymkhana, Law College Road, Kalyaninagar, and Yerawadaa neighbourhoods.
On Friday, there were also other spots where traffic was backed up because of severe spells of rain. Due to the same factor, traffic moved slowly on Law College Road, Bhandarkar Road, Prabhat Road and Apte Road. The electricity cables are carried by these trees that fall on sidewalks or by lingering limbs, posing a serious risk to onlookers. Therefore, timely tree cutting, especially in places with high traffic, becomes crucial.
Another official, who wished to remain unnamed, stated that one of the main causes is a lack of upkeep on the part of the Garden department and the Tree Authority department. Trees are impacted by building around them, particularly pathways, and as a result, they lose their root system's ability to support them, causing them to topple.
A citizen asserted, "From time to time, cutting off the branches of the trees and responding to complaints from the citizens about the height and size of the trees take way more time than required by the PMC officials, resulting in various accidents and traffic blockages even in relatively smaller areas."
However, Ravi Khandare, Assistant Municipal Commissioner and Tree Officer, Ghole road, said, “We did trim off the branches before the monsoon started. But the number of cases of tree falls that took place were because of the natural calamity that is the stormy rains that poured on Friday. PMC makes sure that it trims and maintains all the trees in the respective areas as much as possible according to the complaints received and according to the various roads as per requirement.”