Another life lost in tree collapse, will Chandigarh admn finally learn a lesson? - Hindustan Times
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Another life lost in tree collapse, will Chandigarh admn finally learn a lesson?

By, Chandigarh
Jul 09, 2022 03:15 AM IST

A few years ago, both Chandigarh administration and MC had conducted a survey of trees in their respective areas; in the survey of the latter, 1,037 dry and 258 dangerous trees were revealed

The UT administration’s role in tree preservation and removal of dead and unhealthy trees has once again come under the scanner after a heritage tree claimed a precious life on Friday.

The tree that claimed the life of a Carmel Convent student on Friday is 250 years old, as per the heritage plaque installed by the UT administration on the school campus in Sector 9, Chandigarh. (Ravi Kumar/HT)
The tree that claimed the life of a Carmel Convent student on Friday is 250 years old, as per the heritage plaque installed by the UT administration on the school campus in Sector 9, Chandigarh. (Ravi Kumar/HT)

For a similar incident in 2014, putting the blame squarely on the administration for injuries caused due to a tree falling on a woman, the Punjab and Haryana high court in 2018 had directed it to pay a compensation of 20 lakh to the victim.

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While the administration had claimed it an “Act of God” when the tree in Sector 17 fell on the woman, the high court had blamed the negligence of officials for not removing the dead tree in time, causing the woman’s death. The court had observed that the UT and MC were not serious about their responsibilities.

Similarly, in another incident, an auto-rickshaw driver was killed when a tree fell on him in Sector 37 in 2019. In both the cases, the authorities were informed for the removal of the unhealthy tree and for pruning of overgrown branches, but the authorities failed to act in a timely manner, leading to the tragedies.

In August, 2018, a 35-year-old man was killed and his younger brother was injured after a tree fell on them while they were riding a motorcycle in Sector 10.

Less than two years later, in March 2020, a 27-year-old motorcyclist died and a 25-year-old pillion rider was injured in another tree collapse incident in Dhanas. A 45-year-old resident of Raipur Kalan was killed in a similar accident in February 2021.

RK Garg, president, Second Innings Association, said, “It is the responsibility of the administration to ensure safety of people. A survey of all dangerous trees should be carried regularly and dangerous trees should be replaced with new saplings.”

Holding the administration fully responsible for Friday’s tragedy, Devinder Singh Babla, former councillor and senior BJP leader, said, “MC councillors have time and again written to MC and the administration about dangerous trees, but they have failed to act.”

Demanding an annual inspection of heritage trees, Prem Garg, AAP’s Chandigarh president, said, “Chandigarh has three departments for tree preservation and upkeep, but all three have failed in their job.”

On the engineering department’s part, UT chief engineer CB Ojha said, “We regularly inspect the health of trees and also remove any dead or unhealthy ones within a couple of days of the matter being reported.”

Similarly, Debendra Dalai, chief conservator forests, UT, said, “The department takes only a day or two to decide on requests from the UT engineering department or MC for removal of unsafe trees.”

A few years ago, both the UT administration and MC had conducted a survey of trees in their respective areas. In the survey of the corporation, 1,037 dry and 258 dangerous trees were revealed. At the same time, 615 dry trees were revealed in the administration’s survey. Thereafter, the process of cutting these trees was started.

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