BMC goes to SC to get stay on chopping of trees vacated

Updated: Jun 26, 2019, 07:54 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

BMC goes to SC to get stay on chopping of trees vacated

BMC goes to SC to get stay on chopping of trees vacated
Representational picture

Desperate to fell trees to proceed with the construction of various projects, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) approached the Supreme Court on Tuesday to get a stay on the functioning of the Tree Authority vacated. It filed a special leave petition to lift the stay given by the Bombay High Court. Last year, green activist Zoru Bhathena had filed a petition in the Bombay High Court, alleging that the Tree Authority was violating rules set up under the Trees Act, 1975, as the civic body had not appointed any experts in its committee. As per the Act there should be an equal number of experts as of councillors. On June 18, in the last hearing in this matter, the HC had refused to lift the stay on the Tree Authority's functioning.

After the petition was filed and the HC had also ordered that the civic body follow norms, last month the Gardens Department appointed only four experts. Bhathena had pointed out that the civic body failed to meet the criteria, as there are 14 corporators in the committee. The Tree Authority committee which allows these proposals was asked to appoint experts, but the HC said there should be an equal number of tree experts and councillors, as per the Act, said officials. While the HC's instructions are being followed, the BMC has had no relief, as there are over 50 projects that are stuck due to the stay. Of these about 25 are of the BMC itself.

The projects held up include a proposal to cut 2,700 trees for Metro 3 carshed in Aarey Milk Colony, removal of 55 trees for Storm Water Drain widening at Hindmata, and cutting of over 200 trees for Versova-Bandra Sea Link. "There are several projects, especially big developments that are stuck due to the stay on the Tree Authority cutting trees. We have already appointed four experts and are in the process of involving more experts in the committee. But meanwhile, we request the Supreme Court, that since several infrastructure projects are held up, it should allow the Tree Authority committee to clear proposals for tree cutting," said an official from the Gardens Department. Jitendra Pardeshi, Tree officer and Garden Superintendent, was unavailable for comment.

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