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Killer debris

Wednesday, January 26, 2011
By Adnan Attarwala

The thoughtless dumping of debris and sand in a botanical garden adjacent to the amphitheatre at the Jijamata Udhyan aka Byculla Zoo has not gone down well with environmentalists.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) that has been constructing the Mahatma Gandhi Swimming Pool at Shivaji Park had dumped debris in the garden more than eight months ago, and the mopund is now four feet tall. The debris was to be spread in the enclosures holding deer, elephants and bears. However, till date the heap of debris lies unattended.

The environmentalists have claimed that the unmoved debris is now proving detrimental to the health of the rare trees in the garden as it is choking up the soil and depriving the trees of nutrients and oxygen which they generally absorb from the soil. The garden hosts numerous exotic as well as indigenous trees like Beggar’s Bowl, Calabash Tree, Spanish Cedar, Litsea, Crescentia cujete, etc., which are extremely rare and can be found only at the zoo.

“The debris is choking the whole area, and is proving dangerous for the exotic trees in the garden. The soil cannot breathe or percolate in such condition, and due to lack of oxygen both Crescentia and Litseam which are still young and less than ten feet in height are already wilting. Even the visitors cannot enter the garden, because of this heap of debris,” said Shubhada Nikarge, an environmentalist and a member of Save Rani Bagh Committee.

It’s been more than six months since the environmentalists, especially the members from above mentioned committee, have been frequently writing to the BMC, the zoo director and the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to take a serious note of the issue, but to no avail. “We want them to clear the area before the remaining trees are damaged,” Shubhada added.

Anil Anjankar, Director, Byculla Zoo, said, “Since BMC lacked options, they dumped the debris here on a temporary basis. However, the clearing process has commenced and by the mid-February, the entire garden will be cleared off the debris.

” When contacted, Municipal Commissioner Subodh Kumar, said that he was unaware of the matter and asked that we contact Asst. Municipal Commissioner Assem Gupta, who was unavailable for comment.

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