Maharashtra to amend Act to protect trees, prevent excess felling
To improve the forest cover and conserve old trees, the state government has decided to make an amendment in Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975. The amendment has proposed to classify 50-year-old trees as heritage, tighten the rules for felling of trees for development works and increase the number of trees to be planted in lieu for the cut tree.
The Maharashtra cabinet on Wednesday approved the proposal for the ordinance for the amendment in the Act, which was moved by Environment and Climate Change Department led by Aaditya Thackeray. The amendment has proposed to make it mandatory to plant trees equivalent to the age of the tree in case felling of trees is allowed for development project. The planted trees need to be 6-8 feet in height and the survival of such trees should be ensured by geo-tagging. The permission of the felling of more than 200 trees should come from the Maharashtra State Tree Authority. “The authority will be over the ones that are with various urban local bodies and will look into the conservation of heritage trees and proposals to cut more that 200 trees,” said Thackeray.
The amendment has also proposed the census of trees every five years with the use of new technology such as GIS-based app. “Maharashtra Tree Authority, once formed, will issue guidelines for utilization of tree cess... Fines and penalties shall be notified from time to time, with maximum limit upto ₹1 lakh per tree,” the proposal has stated.
Thackeray tweeted after the cabinet, “…Through this amendment, we will be able to safeguard green covers across urban landscapes and also provide a robust mechanism to protect heritage trees...”
Meanwhile, the cabinet also approved the proposal for conservation of mangrove corals in coastal parts of the state under Green Climate Fund. The project will be implemented in 11 tehsils in four coastal districts.