New Delhi, May 14 : As showers brought relief for the people in Delhi, several areas across the national capital faced damage from trees uprooted by a dust storm, raising concerns about the safety of people.
Uprooted or fallen off trees were visible in most parts of Central Delhi, including Ashoka Road (outside Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh's residence), Gole Market Road, the Akashwani Bhawan roundabout; the Life Insurance Corporation building, Sardar Patel Bhawan, Yojna Bhawan, Sena Bhawan main circle, South Avenue Road, Diplomatic Enclave (close to the U.S. Embassy) and Rao Tula Ram Marg.
In north Delhi, near Hindu Rao Hospital, at least eight trees had fallen on the main road adjoining the Ridge, causing blockage for the traffic. A huge Safeda (liptus) tree was found uprooted in the Subzi Mandi Police Station area, blocking the entire stretch.
At least half a dozen fruit sellers escaped being crushed by a branch of the neem tree.
Bystanders said a fruit seller just managed to escape just before a branch fell on his cart.
At the Rani Jhansi Road, the recently inaugurated statue of Rani Laxmi Bai survived from getting hit by an uprooted tree.
"So many trees have fallen here due to rain and heavy winds. We are just trying to clear off the road. So many patients and general public use this road as a thoroughfare. It will help them as soon as we drag these trunks away," said one traffic sergeant being assisted by seven helpers amidst rain.
Municipal Corporation of Delhi officials told ANI that the pruning of trees is done regularly and is classified in two categories; light pruning and heavy pruning.
Light pruning is done through out the year. Heavy pruning is carried out only after special permission or on directives. It is done in specific cases like required for any major project or when needed for any specific location.
"We have not been able to attempt any such drive because of the official difficulties involved. Heavy pruning is a tedious process that involves seeking permission from the forest department," said Deep Mathur, chief spokesperson and Director of Press and Information for MCD.
"There is as such no pre-Monsoon pruning drive carried out by the MCD. Generally, pruning is don by our zonal staff based on the complaints or information received by control room set up in different zones," Mathur informed.
"It is true that there are a lot of trees across Delhi which require timely pruning for public welfare and security. But, unfortunately, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi doesn't have the authority for heavy pruning. It lies with the Department of Forests, Government of India. I believe the authority for heavy pruning must be brought under MCD," said Arti Mehra, Delhi Mayor.
"The cutting of any tree as per the existing Indian Penal Code is almost equivalent to murder. At present, the MCD can only carry out light pruning," she added.
"The Director of the Delhi's horticulture department, as per the existing norm, has to request the Central forest department for heavy pruning. The latter sends its representative to inspect at the site. He decides about putting a red mark on that tree that declares it dangerous. And, it is then done by a contractor." By Sandeep Datta