The Telangana Forest Department on Friday slapped a fine of Rs 53,900 on a gated community in Hyderabad for illegally cutting down more than 40 trees on its premises.
On February 22, Indu Fortune Fields Gardenia located in Kukatpally Housing Board Colony (KPHB) in the city had felled the trees which were over 20 feet tall. While the community claimed it has translocated the trees in a nearby park, the forest department officials, who were alerted by some residents, charged the executives of the community under the WALTA (Water Land and Trees Act, 2002) for failing to take prior permission for cutting the trees.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Medchal district forest officer(DFO) D Sudhakar Reddy said, “The president of the society, during our inquiry, said that the trees were felled for development of amenities and that the trees were translocated. That is not the solution. Before cutting trees, permission should have been sought.”
Explaining further, the officer said there are two categories of trees — exempted and non-exempted trees. “For both the categories, one has to apply for permission before felling them via the Telangana forest management information system(TGFMIS) website. In the case of the exempted category, i.e. if the trees are within the premises of an individual’s ownership, he/she can apply and submit a self-certification seeking exemption. In the non-exempted category, upon application via the website, the officer concerned would do a ground inspection and depending on the necessity of cutting the tree, would grant permission,” he said.
And if the tree is standing on public property or government land, one has to first seek a no-objection certificate from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation before applying via the website. “A gated community that way is a public property (not owned by an individual). We have conducted the inquiry and levied the fine,” he added.
Asked about the claim of a gated community that trees were translocated, he said, “Even if trees are translocated, it has to be done scientifically. We are not considering that angle at all.”
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