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Mumbai civic chief will consult experts before giving nod to cutting of trees: BMC to high court

The state government has responded to the plea saying mere abuse or possible misuse of a legal provision cannot be a ground for striking it down

mumbai Updated: Apr 18, 2018 00:02 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday assured the Bombay high court that the municipal commissioner will consult in-house experts before exercising his power to allow cutting or removal of trees.

Anil Sakhare,who represented the BMC, assured a bench of justices Abhay Oka and Riyaz Chagla that citizens will be given a week to challenge the civic chief’s order on felling of trees.

Sakhare was responding to a plea filed by city activist Zoru Bhathena, seeking stay on implementation of Section 8(6) of the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Preservation and Protection of Trees Act, 1975. The section added in 2017 empowers civic chiefs to grant permission for felling of up to 25 trees at their level, while proposals seeking removal of more than 25 trees are sent to the multi-member tree authority of a civic body.

Bhathena has also complained about misuse of the legal provision, stating that proposals seeking permission to cut trees are split to get the civic chief’s nod. His plea stated that the BMC had received 49 proposals for cutting 806 trees in January.

His lawyer, advocate Snehal, has earlier pointed out that first two proposals in the list related to a slum rehabilitation project requiring removal of 29 trees, but the proposal was split into two — one for 20 and the other for 9 trees.

The state government has responded to the plea saying mere abuse or possible misuse of a legal provision cannot be a ground for striking it down by the court. Senior advocate SU Kamdar, who represented the government, said the new section has been added to expedite small projects.

Kamdar clarified that the new section does not confer untrammelled powers on municipal commissioners.

First Published: Apr 18, 2018 00:02 IST