MUMBAI: A former Doordarshan anchor and yoga instructor Kanchan Nath, returning home from work in Chembur, has become the third casualty of a tree collapse this year in the city. Kanchan, 58, died Saturday morning, two days after a coconut tree snapped from its trunk and fell on her as she walked down on Sant Venkaiah Marg.
The incident took place on Thursday , around 8 am, during a brief lull amid heavy rains. Kanchan had got off a bus and was making her way back to Prawasi housing society near Swastik Park after a yoga session. The upper portion of the coconut palm came crashing down in an instant. She collapsed under its weight and was extricated by passers-by, who shifted her to nearby Sushrut Hospital where she died on Saturday . Kanchan is survived by husband Rajat, 59, a daughter and a son. The former TV anchor and face of a `Pradeshik Sangeet’ show on the state-run broadcaster, was to celebrate her birthday on September 10; she had booked a new car for the occasion. Kanchan had al so acted in TV serials.
The tree colla pse was captured by the CCTV of a bar and has gone viral, evoking sh arp reactions. Lo cal residents bla med the BMC. Ap art from several injured in this se ason, this is the third fatality this year due to a tree collapse. Civic officials say several crores have been spent in pruning trees this year following a pre-monsoon survey. However, incidents of branches and entire trees falling have occurred throughout the month. The owner of the bungalow, in whose property the coconut tree stood, had approached BMC months ago and paid to have the 50-year-old tree cut. After an inspection, a civic team decided to trim it and let it stand. The death of Chembur resident Kanchan Nath, who became the third casualty of a tree collapse this year, has once again focused attention on the perils faced by pedestrians during Mumbai’s monsoon.
The Nath household was plunged in gloom on Saturday after the sudden, unexpected loss of a dear one. Kanchan, although 57, was a sprightly multi-tasker, said her husband Rajat. “She looked young even at her age. People used to say my daughter and she looked like sisters,” he added.
Kanchan worked as a yoga instructor and used her spare time to compere music shows which paid tributes to singers such as Manna Dey and Jagmohan. She had a programme to be held at Juhu Millennium Club for which she was busy rehearsing, said Rajat.
Kanchan’s husband said he held BMC responsible for the incident. After the funeral, Rajat said, “In February , the owner of the bungalow, Avinash Pol, in whose compound the coconut tree stood, had complained to BMC that the tree may collapse. Officials from the tree department visited the place, inspected the tree and said it was fine and fit and hence there was no need for chopping it.” He was seconded by Avinash Pol’s wife Meenakshi, who said, “The tree was standing for 50 years, it was bent and there were white ants on it. Hence my husband wrote to BMC to chop it off, for which we even paid Rs 1,380. But a BMC team inspected it and said it was fit and can survive for another 10 years.” After Kanchan’s death, Rajat approached Chembur police station to file a complaint against BMC but they have refused to accept it saying it was a civil matter. Both BMC and Chembur police held an inquiry , but ruled out any foul play .
Assistant municipal commissioner and local ward officer H A Kale, said, “We received an application in February . On February 27, our garden department representative examined the tree and pruned it.There was no request to trim the tree in the last five months, it’s an unfortunate incident.” DCP Shahji Umap said, “We had called BMC officials, Pol and a few locals for an inquiry, it appears it was an accident.We have registered an ADR.”
Between June 10 and July 21, BMC received 1,250 complaints of trees falling, mostly those located on footpaths. Activist D Stalin said mindless concretisation on footpaths was at the root of the problem.
The BMC spends several crores every year before the monsoon to trim green cover and make the streets safe for pedestrians and motorists. Yet, the sheer number of accidents involving trees in which people lose lives, suffer injuries or damage to vehicles and property continue to rise.Obviously, the manner in which the BMC goes about identifying spots where vegetation needs to be pruned is flawed. The BMC should take expert assistance from botanists and revamp in-house processes to ensure safety rather than be in denial.