Following this paper’s report about trees being illegally axed by private developer, police act on BMC official’s complaint
The private plot is located near the Kotak IT Park in Goregaon
A month after mid-day highlighted the illegal felling of 560 trees on a private plot being developed by Raheja Construction at Goregaon, the Dindoshi police have booked some unknown people in the case. Based on the statement of Mayuresh Bhoir, a tree official from P-North ward office, the police registered a case on Monday.
An official deployed by the developer at the site denied any wrongdoing.
As per the copy of the FIR, accessed by mid-day, the BMC said that 560 trees on a plot belonging to Dinshaw Trust and Ferani Hotels Private Limited Construction Company have been hacked from the stump without its permission.
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Under the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Preservation & Protection of Trees Act, those illegally chopping trees can be penalised as well as imprisoned
“This is an offence. On behalf of the BMC, I am lodging a complaint against owners and manager of the Messrs Dinshaw Trust and Messrs Ferani Hotels Private Limited [a Construction Company],” the BMC official said in his statement to the police.
On July 4, a local MNS leader, advocate Bhaskar Parab, had said that hundreds of trees on a private plot near the Kotak IT Park had been illegally chopped by a private developer. In his complaint to the BMC, Parab claimed that the property belonged to a private trust and was being developed by Raheja.
Sandeep Raheja is one of the directors of Messrs Ferani Hotels Private Limited.
After he received no response, Parab escalated the matter to senior BMC officials. On August 26, the civic body wrote to the Dindoshi police confirming the felling of 560 trees without permission. On September 26, the police merely registered a non-cognisable offence, despite the rule book clearly mentioning that cutting trees without permission is an offence under the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Preservation & Protection of Trees Act. Under this Act, those who indulged in such crimes can be penalised as well as imprisoned.
Whistleblower Parab is, however, not happy that the cops have booked some unknown people. “The plot on which trees were cut is a gated area. The plot not only has cement walls but is also guarded round the clock by security personnel. It is obvious that those deployed for security have allowed someone inside the premises to cut the trees. The police must conduct thorough investigations and identify the culprits rather than taking an FIR against unknown people.”
Yogendrasingh Kachhawa, assistant superintendent of garden (P North ward), said the BMC has taken action as per the law. “Now it is the police department which has to take the case ahead to its logical end,” he said.
Jeevan Kharat, senior inspector of Dindoshi police station, shared the contact of the investigating officer and requested mid-day to speak to him. But the officer did not respond to calls and messages.
‘We only cleared bushes’
Mahendra Chande, an official deployed by the developer at the Goregaon site, insisted that they never indulged in any illegal cutting of trees. The construction company claimed that the superintendent of garden had given them a letter clearly mentioning that there are no trees on the site.
“We have permission from the forest department to cut the bushes. Accordingly only bushes were cleared. The allegations levelled by Mr Parab are false and with deliberate intentions to malign our image. We have given our letter to the police station which clearly mentions that our firm had permission to cut bushes. Also in our letter, we have informed the police Mr Parab had got a third party to the site with a malafide intention to create a false case and gone along with the party in our property [sic],” Chande added.
Day the FIR was registered