Dear Santa, can't you save this Christmas tree?

Koliwada residents facing a blue Xmas, 40-ft tree to be axed to make way for storm water drains

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Dear Santa, can't you save this Christmas tree?
The tree, a landmark of Juhu Koliwada area, is all set to go as BMC wants to widen road

Decorating their community's only Christmas tree for the final time, residents of Juhu Koliwada are in a sombre mood. The tree, a landmark of the area, is all set to go as BMC wants it chopped for road widening purposes.

The East Indian community from the area had been pressing for the widening of Revandkar Road since the past one decade. However, when authorities decided to give in to their demands and made plans for the purpose, the very same residents were most unhappy hearing the news that their beloved 40-ft tree would be axed.

While widening, civic officials have decided to lay storm water drain chambers along the sides of the road. In addition to the Christmas tree, 20-odd palm trees – the area's only green cover – as well as flower beds on both sides of the road will also face the axe.

Residents claim they had been running from pillar to post to try and salvage the situation, but now don't have any place left to go. They have alleged that politicians dilly-dallied and said that the felling of a few trees for development should not be objected. The dejected members said that they have all taken care of the tree, watered it and watched it grow to its current height of 40 feet.

A resident, 65-year-old Flory Fernandes, said that decorating the tree this year, two days before Christmas, left everyone emotional. She added: "With a heavy heart we could decorate it. The civic body is mindlessly laying storm water drain chambers in place of the flower beds. Now, rodents will have easy access to the houses here as the gutters will flow right outside people's doors. We suggested to BMC officials to route the chambers around the tree, but failed to convince them."

Yusuf Sheikh, a youngster from the area mirrored Fernandes' despair, saying: "We unfailingly decorate it every Christmas. I can't believe it won't be with us next year."

Another community member, Larson Fernandes said: "We have learnt that all our efforts are in vain. Now, the civic authorities have stopped discussing the fate of the tree with us."

In the last 2 decades, Revandkar Road has been laid only twice. This year, BMC's central agency has taken up the work.

Officials from the road department confirmed about the trees being axed for development. Saying that their hands were tied, an official added: "The 40-ft-wide road will have a 100-meter chamber as per the plan. We can't do anything about the tree, as routing the chambers around it may create a sudden diversion, leading to water getting choked at one point."

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