FINDING IT strange that one needs permission from the adviser to the UT administrator even to remove dead trees, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Chandigarh Administration as to whether authorities would have to do the same even in case of emergencies like natural calamities.
During the resumed hearing of the case of a 20-year-old Chandigarh woman, whose right leg below the knee had to be amputated after she came under a heavy branch of a dead tree at Sector 17 in September 2013, Justice Rajan Gupta observed that power has to be delegated for an easy process in the matter and there is even confusion related to the jurisdiction of trees among the UT departments and the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation.
The HC Bench made the observation after the counsel, representing Chandigarh MC, said till recently the corporation did not even have the power to prune trees. MC Chief Engineer, in a written affidavit, told the High Court that in the victim’s case, a complaint was made only in January 2013 but since the cases for the adviser’s approval of the trees are grouped in one lot and after that the bids are invited for the removal and disposal of trees, the case had been pending for long.
“It is submitted that the office is required to follow procedure laid down for the removal of trees as well as the departmental procedure and opening of tenders as such there is no laxity on the part of any official of the Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh,” said the chief engineer.
Chandigarh MC has informed the High Court that while conduting the census this year, of the 1,65,597 trees in the city, a total of 1,029 were found to be dead and dry. The municipal corporation has so far only received permission from the adviser to remove 602 trees and for the remaining 427 dead and dry trees, the approval was awaited according to the official response.
“Out of the 602 trees, the approval of approximately 115 trees was granted by the competent authority in May and June this year and these trees have already been removed. The remaining 487 dead and dry trees for which approval was received this July shall be cut by 31.08.2017,” said the chief engineer.
The High Court, during the earlier orders, had observed that it needs to be examined “whether the lengthy procedure as envisaged by the UT Administration is necessary to be followed even if the life of an inhabitant of the city is endangered due to any such circumstances as obtained in the instant case” and had asked the MC chief engineer to appear in court in person.
The single bench on Wednesday said it would require an amicus for assistance in the case. The UT counsel were asked to seek instructions regarding permission to remove dead trees and file the same during the next hearing on September 6.