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Pune civic body serves notice to Panchshil Group for ‘illegally’cutting down 500 trees

As per Section 8 of the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, no tree owner is allowed to hack fully-grown, live trees without permission from the tree authority, irrespective of the reason.

pune Updated: Mar 20, 2018 14:50 IST
Parth Welankar
Parth Welankar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Mula-Mutha,Pune,PMC
Land of Raheja builder near Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Yerwada in Pune on Thursday.(Pratham Gokhale/HT PHOTO)

Pune: Following a Hindustan Times report about alleged illegal razing of 500 trees at the natural bird sanctuary on the Mula-Mutha riverbank in Yerawada, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has served a notice to the Panchshil Group for the illegal cutting of trees.

Vasant Patil, tree officer of PMC, said, “Having found some irregularities in our routine inquiry, we have served a legal notice to the Panchshil Group under Section 8 of Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975.We have given 15 days’ time to the Panchshil Group for presenting their case. Failing to produce a considerable case, we will register a complaint against the realty group.”

Alleged illegal razing of 500 trees at the natural bird sanctuary on the Mula-Mutha riverbank in Yerawada had highlighted the state of its neglect by the civic authorities. A member of PMC tree authority committee alleged that Panchshil Group has violated the environmental norms by razing more than 500 trees out of standing 592 tree of various species in the property owned by the group, without seeking permission from the authorities.

The area where construction is currently taking place was previously earmarked as reserved land under the Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in the 1987 Development Plan (DP) of PMC. However, the state government recently changed the reservation and the land was converted into a residential zone in the new DP.

Reacting to PMC’s action, city MP Vandana Chavan who had recently written to the chief minister seeking an inquiry on the issue said, “PMC has been sleeping all these days when as many as 500 trees were razed. The negligence of the authorities concerned in the city compelled me to write to the CM.”

She said that though a firm action has been taken now, the negligence has cost the city 500 trees.MP Chavan also demanded suspension of the officer who was on duty when the trees were illegally cut down.

Manoj Pachpute, a PMC tree authority committee (TAC) member, had earlier alleged that Panchshil Group has violated norms by razing more than 500 trees out of 592 tree of various species in the property owned by the group, without seeking any permission from the concerned authorities.

MP Chahvan also accused the state government of stooping to a new low saying, “On one hand the government is spending crores of money for river development program and on advertisements of forest conservation.While on other, with such modifications in the reservations, the government is allowing the residential construction by razing so many trees”.

Despite repeated attempts, city builder Atul Chordia, chairman of Panchshil Group, could not be reached for comment.

First Published: Mar 20, 2018 14:24 IST