PMC to take legal action against Panchshil Group for cutting 500 trees ‘by mistake’

PMC’s move comes after unsatisfactory reply from Panchshil Group to civic body’s notice.

pune Updated: Apr 09, 2018 16:43 IST
Parth Welankar
Parth Welankar
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,maharashtra,mula mutha river
Birds seen on the polluted Mula-Mutha rivers at Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.(HT File Photo)

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) will be taking legal action against the Panchshil Group for the alleged illegal razing of 500 trees at the natural bird sanctuary on the Mula-Mutha riverbank in Yerawada, civic officials said on Sunday. The civic action comes after the developer responded to the PMC’s notice which the authorities termed as “unsatisfactory”.

“Under Section 8 of the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, we had earlier sent a notice to Panchshil group seeking an explanation of the illegal razing of 500 trees. Panchshil group, in their response, had mentioned that the trees were razed by mistake,” said Vasant Patil, tree officer at PMC.

Patil said the response from the Panchshil Group is unsatisfactory and appears to be false. “Consequently, under the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, we will file a case against the builder in the coming week,” he said.

A letter informing that the builder’s response has not been satisfactory and action will be taken has already been sent to the Panchshil Group, added Patil.

Despite repeated attempts, Atul Chordia, chairman of Panchshil Group, could not be reached. Phone calls and text messages sent by HT remained unanswered. In an earlier response on March 16, Chordia had said, “It is not true that the trees have been cut. My plot is two acres and the reservation on it was vacated as per Supreme Court order. The order copy can be made available.”

Hindustan Times, on March 16, 2018, had highlighted the issue with a series of reports (‘Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary: 500 of 592 trees illegally felled).

Taking cognisance of HT reports, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had sought a detailed report over the alleged illegal felling of over 500 trees at the Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.

Senior forest officials from Pune had said “Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has taken cognisance of the issue and has ordered immediate action.”

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.

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

The area, where Panchshil Group’s 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 the Pune Municipal Corporation. However, the state government recently changed the reservation and the land was converted into a residential zone in the new DP.

Following changes in the DP, city builder Atul Chordia, chairman of Panchshil Group, is conducting construction activities at the plot located on the bank of the Mula-Mutha rivers behind Kalyaninagar, said Pachpute.

First Published: Apr 09, 2018 16:40 IST