Only two of the seven corporators appointed on the Tree Authority committee of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) are science graduates. The PMC had earlier submitted an affidavit before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), stating that science graduates would be preferred for appointments to the crucial committee. Last week, the civic municipal secretary department had, through the general body meeting, appointed seven corporators on the Tree Authority committee.
After details on their educational qualification were sought, the civic administration said only two of the seven corporators have a degree in the science stream. “Two members are science graduates, two are graduates from other faculty, one each is class V, X and XII pass,” said the civic administration.
A civic officer said, “We were informed that corporators with science degrees were asked to submit their applications for appointment on the Pune Tree Authority. However, corporators with science degrees showed no interest in getting appointed on the committee”.
“The reason that corporators with science degrees showed no interest in the committee was because the tenure of the committee is five years. The appointment on Pune Tree Authority committee cuts down their chances of being appointed on other crucial committees such as the Standing Committee, city improvement and legal,” he said.
The civic body has also started the process of appointing seven experts on the committee; preferably, they have to be a graduate or diploma holder in Agriculture, Forest or Garden and associated with a national-level NGO working in the environment sector.
PMC Garden Superintendent Ashok Ghorpade said the appointment of environment experts on the committee would be done completely based on the set criteria, otherwise it would amount to contempt of court.
“We would verify the educational qualification as well as experience of the applicants for the experts’ position… the list would be then tabled in the general body meeting, so that the elected representatives can take a decision on the appointment of the seven experts from a list of all eligible applicants,” he said.
As per the criteria, the environment experts should be a member of a national-level NGO, should be registered with the state social forestry department, and should have at least five years’ experience in tree plantation, conservation and transplantation.
The PMC’s Tree Authority committee is crucial as it takes decisions on proposals to cut down trees within the civic jurisdiction.
There has been a lot of hue and cry over the appointment of members in the Tree Authority committee of the PMC, with civic activists alleging that political parties were getting people, who had absolutely no knowledge of the environment, on board.
A few years ago, the Bombay High Court had suspended the committee, but later allowed its constitution after the civic administration assured the court that the strength of members would be restricted and an educational criteria would be set for the members.