Acting on complaints filed by tree activists, who had accused the body of neglecting the city’s green cover, the PMC’s garden department has decided to form a tree authority for each ward. The move comes after tree activists and environmentalists questioned the measures implemented by the PMC to curb illegal hacking of trees in the city.
Additional Municipal Commissioner and garden department chief Naresh Zurmure said each of the 14 wards will have a separate tree authority, comprising a corporator, a horticulture mistry, and gardeners whose activities will be supervised by the assistant garden superintendent and the municipal
commissioner. The activists had claimed that the tree authority did not exist as there was no control on the felling of trees in the city.
Two months ago they had even objected to the technique implemented to prune trees, calling it ‘unscientific’. The activists had said that unskilled workers were carrying out pruning without appropriate groundwork, while the process required studying the tree species and its landscape. “We have been demanding that every ward should have at least two to three expert tree officers and a new tree authority should be formed,” Ketaki Ghate, a member of Pune Tree Watch, said. “We have also been suggesting the purchase of better resources and equipment to trim trees, but the department is citing monetary reasons and lack of budget for the same.”
The tree authority is a committee responsible for regulating the felling of trees and providing for plantation of new trees. According to the Maharashtra Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 2009, the authority should include members of NGOs that are registered with the social forestry department and they should have experience of working for tree preservation for 10 years.
“As per the tree act, there are certain provisions that we have to follow, and we are working on it; the PMC will renovate some of the existing trucks and even buy new ones as the earlier ones are becoming unusable,” Zurmure said. “We have also provided jeeps and additional equipment to our officers in each ward at the cost of Rs 70,000 to Rs 90,000. We are planning to have at least four to five persons in each ward to monitor trees, who will also keep a tab on illegal tree felling activities.”