A city court has recently directed 67-year-old Surender Vasudeva to grow 210 trees as punishment for chopping down 42 in June 2003.
More than five years ago,when Vasudeva had been caught by an officer,he had said he did not know cutting down trees was an offence. Five years hence,he has learnt the hard way when the city court convicted him under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act,1994.
Pronouncing the order,Metropolitan Magistrate D K Jangala said: Trees are the lungs of the city and the preservation of trees is the utmost duty of every citizen. The Act was enacted to provide safeguard for the preservation of trees. It is a matter of common knowledge that green part of the earth is shrinking… The court also refused to buy the argument that Vasudeva was not aware of the law. The judge said offences under the relevant Act is taken seriously as its consequences affect others. The magistrate further noted while an offender must be punished,it was equally important to see if the wrong could be corrected by an appropriate direction. He ordered Vasudeva to plant 210 five for each tree he had cut down.
Vasudeva had also sought leniency pleading his advanced age. While the court took note of his age and background,it observed that Vasudeva could not escape punishment or the tag of a convict for breaching a citizens duty to save trees. The court then ordered his conditional release and asked him to plant the trees under the supervision of the probation officer. Vasudeva was also ordered to furnish a personal and surety bond of Rs 20,000 each. He has been warned with a jail term if he contravened the courts order.
The Delhi Preservation of Trees Act,1994
The Act aims at the conservation of trees in the Capital. Section 8 of the Act imposes restrictions on the felling and removal of trees. According to the statute,no person,whether in ownership or otherwise,shall prune a tree unless there exists a grave danger to life,property or traffic. To cut a tree,one needs to apply to a tree officer,telling him the reasons for felling. Moreover,every person,who is granted permission,shall be bound to plant such number and kind of trees in the area as directed by the tree officer. Section 24 of the Act prescribes punishment for offenders.
A violator faces a maximum jail term of one year along with fine.