BMC appoints experts to its tree panel
After repeated warnings by the Bombay high court (HC), the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday approved the nominations of four experts to the tree authority committee.
The move is expected to give fillip to development projects, including the proposed Metro car shed at Aarey, that are stuck owing to pending tree-cutting permissions.
This is the first time the civic body has appointed experts to the committee, which clears tree-cutting proposals, since 2017. The committee had been prevented from clearing any more proposals after the issue was highlighted in a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Zoru Bhathena.
The PIL had challenged the validity of a 2017 amendment to the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act that empowered the municipal commissioner to decide on proposals to remove, fell or transplant up to 25 trees.
The committee should have independent experts alongside corporators, the PIL had stated.
Bhathena had also challenged a number of tree-felling proposals, including the felling of 2,700 trees in Aarey.
“The appointment [of experts] is a good move. However, the authenticity of these members’ expertise needs to be checked. Also, the court had directed that the number of corporators should be equal to the numbers of experts. So the question is if the BMC will remove any corporators from the committee to meet the requirements,” said Bhathena.
Responding to the comment, a senior civic official said, “Nowhere is it written that the committee members should have equal representation. The rules state that there should be fewer experts than corporators.”