SHIV SENA corporators on Tuesday put up stiff opposition to a proposal to permit builders and developers who need to cut less than 25 trees on their plot without seeking prior approval from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
While the BJP-led state government is keen to cut red tape and reduce the number of approvals needed by the real estate sector, the Sena corporators alleged that
the state government was trying to curtail the powers of the Sena-led municipal corporation.
While the proposal is to be discussed at a meeting on January 7, the BMC’s Building Proposals department meanwhile circulated a manual with the amended rules in which the number of permissions required by builders is shown as reduced from the current 119 to 58. The manual was published on January 2.
On Tuesday, leader of the BMC House and senior Shiv Sena corporator Trushna Vishwasrao raised the issue at the weekly Standing Committee meeting, but did not get any support from the other parties.
One of the amendments proposed in the new manual of the Building Proposals department is that proposals for cutting fewer than 25 trees does not need to be sent for the Tree Authority body’s approval and can instead be sent to the municipal commissioner directly for approvals.
Currently, builders have to approach the Tree Authority before even a single tree is cut. Calling it a blatant overriding of corporators’ authority, Vishwasrao said, “We support the administration’s intention to speed up the process. But how could they publish the new norm in the manual even before we have
had a chance to discuss it in the Tree Authority meeting?”
MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande said the Sena’s corporators had not previously voiced their concern over the issue of rampant tree cutting by builders.
“When we tried to raise the issue in the house, the mayor wouldn’t allow us to speak. Besides, why did the Sena corporators not realise the issue when they attended the launch of the manual last week?
The Sena seems to be confused — are they in power in the state government or not?,” he said.
He added that he does not want to be a part of the Sena’s fight with the BJP. Sharing Deshpande’s view, Samajwadi Party corporator Rais Shaikh added that
corporators will have to support any speeding up of the processes in seeking building permissions.
BJP corporators pointed out that the Tree Authority has rarely rejected permission for tree cutting.
BJP leader Manoj Kotak said the more pertinent point that should be discussed is whether trees are being replanted as stipulated. Another BJP corporator said, “The Sena’s only issue is that the CM introduced the manual instead of their party’s leader.”