Pune: Advocate and environment activist Assem Sarode will file a petition in the High Court against the amendment in the Maharashtra (Urban mreas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, that allows the municipal commissioner of the city to grant permission for the felling of 25 or less trees.
“The Act was made to preserve the forest cover in the state, especially in the urban areas, and to protect it from getting depleted. However, this new amendment, dated January 16, has changed the procedure one needs to go through to acquire permission for felling of trees. It has, in turn, given uncontrolled authority to the municipal commissioners or the chief executive authorities of municipal councils to grant permission
single-handedly to cut trees where 25 or less trees are involved.
This will totally hamper the transparency in the procedure, and pave new ways for corruption. This decision is very insensitive and dangerous for the environment,” Sarode said.
He also said that Tree Preservation Committees and Tree Authorities have been formed by the government in all cities and the decision to grant permission to cut the trees or relocate them should be made by consulting them, following the due procedure. “The law has already been implemented in several places and people have already started using the shield of this amendment to cut down trees.”
Environmentalist Dr Vishwambhar Choudhari also pointed out that this amendment could easily be misused. “They have stated that the commissioner has been given the power to grant permission for cutting of 25 or less trees.
However, there is no limit on the number of applications a single person can file and people can easily apply in batches of 25 to cut down more trees,” Choudhari added.