Mumbai civic body must not split tree cutting proposals for easy approval: Bombay HC
The HC bench also expressed displeasure over the fact that advertisements inviting suggestions on tree cutting proposals were not being published in leading Marathi, Hindi and English dailiesUpdated: Feb 07, 2018 09:56 IST
The Bombay high court on Tuesday criticised the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for splitting tree cutting proposals to ensure that they are dealt with by the municipal commissioner instead of the Tree Authority.
The bench of Justices Abhay Oka and PN Deshmukh also expressed displeasure over the fact that advertisements inviting suggestions on tree cutting proposals were not being published in leading Marathi, Hindi and English dailies. “Is it not your responsibility to ensure that the advertisements appear in leading newspapers so that larger number of people know what you [the BMC] are doing,” said the bench.
The court was hearing a plea filed by activist Zoru Bhathena complaining that tree cutting proposals were being split as the Tree Authority only looks into proposals that concern more than 25 trees. Bhathena had approached the HC challenging validity of last year’s amendment to the Maharashra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act that conferred special power upon the municipal commissioner to decide proposals seeking permission to remove, fell or transplant up to 25 trees.
Snehal, his counsel said in January itself 49 proposals for cutting 806 trees have been submitted in this manner. She said the first two proposals for cutting total 29 trees related to one slum rehabilitation project were split into two — one for 20 and the other for 9 trees.
The bench said this cannot be tolerated. It has now asked the BMC about the procedure the civic chief follows while dealing with such proposals as he must take experts’ help. “No doubt, power has been conferred upon the commissioner, but, if he grants permission without such advice the trees will be gone forever,” said the bench.
The bench has now posted Bhathena’s plea on Wednesday for further hearing.