The civic body's tree authority committee has granted permission to cut 2,885 trees across the city in the past seven months. But not one member of the committee is a tree expert.
The members who cleared proposals to cut the trees are all corporators, who presumably have little knowledge on the subject.
According to provisions of the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Preservation of Trees Act of 1975, the tree authority committee has to nominate non-councillor members who are experts in botany, horticulture or agriculture.
"With no tree experts on board, there is a possibility that the upcoming census might reflect a stark decline in the tree count," said Niranjan Shetty, former tree authority member. "With a larger interest in development than in preservation and protection of the green cover, the preamble of the act has not been adhered to," he added.
Senior civic officials defended the lack of experts claiming that the procedure of nominating non-councillor members was long. "In May, we had invited applications from candidates with environmental knowledge or experience. However, the procedure is long, so we haven't nominated any non-councillor member yet," said Suhas Karwande, deputy municipal commissioner (gardens). "We have received 24 applications and will discuss their nominations in the next tree authority meeting."
On Tuesday, members of the tree authority committee inspected the condition of around 500 trees that had been marked for cutting during the meeting last month, to make way for some developmental projects.
Environmental experts questioned the credibility of this move. "While granting permission to cut trees, there is a need to take into account several technical aspects. With no scientific expertise, on what basis will they grant permissions for large-scale cutting?" said Avinash Kubal, deputy director, Maharashtra Nature Park.
The current committee has been criticised for backing developmental projects by granting proposals to cut trees obstructing project work.