In phase one of its GPS-based tree census, the BMC had counted 16,01,514 trees in 16 administrative wards surveyed so far. It identified 298 different tree species including 20 rare ones and one hitherto not known to be in the city, adam’s apple or manilkara kaukil, in D ward. Rain trees are most common, and gulmohar and coconut trees are also pretty common.
“Our culture is itself is based on nature and its elements,” said Raje. “It is the most environment friendly. The importance of trees in our culture is unique. Many of the trees that are referred in epics have medicinal values and can purify the air. The BMC must plant such trees so that they are preserved and people don’t hack them easily.”
Raje’s list of sacred trees also includes sweet lime, ashoka, tamarind, kadamba, bakul, khari, deodar, palas, chandan, belpatri, arjun and rudrakasha.
“These trees have special mention in the epics and are culturally relevant,” he said. Youngsters don’t know about them. The BMC should plant them and also put up boards giving information about them indicating their scientific names, medicinal use etc, so at least people will know about the trees.”
BMC officials said that they would discuss the proposal in the Tree Authority’s next meeting. “There is no policy at the moment on what trees should be planted,” said an official from the BMC’s Garden Department. “Tree plantation is done routinely based on local requests. We prefer trees that require less water and are easy to maintain.”
The opposition Congress is sceptical. “All trees are good for the environment,” said Congress corporator Devendra Amberkar. “We don’t want trees to be given any religious or cultural colour. As long as the BMC is planting more trees and preventing existing ones from being hacked, we will support them.”