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Few cases of illegal tree felling reach courts

The statistics on illegal felling of tress released by the BMC’s Gardens Department reveals startling facts.

Written by Nitya Kaushik | Mumbai |
June 22, 2009 1:54:06 am

The statistics on illegal felling of tress released by the BMC’s Gardens Department reveals startling facts. According to the statistics,only 153 cases of unauthorised tree cutting have been reported to the officials from 2008 till date. Also,of them,145 made it to the police complaint books but in only eight cases were offenders tried in the metropolitan court.

It further states,while the city wards from Colaba to Dadar registered the least number of unauthorized tree cutting over the year (41cases),the western suburbs of Bandra,Andheri and Malad saw the most (66 cases). The eastern suburbs saw 46 cases.

Ward wise,Grant Road (D ward) with 16 cases and Chembur (M West) with 14 cases recorded the highest number of offences,though none reached the courts.

According to K Y Rao,deputy superintendent of gardens,any average citizen can approach the police about an illegal tree cutting incident in their area. The police can then convert the complaint into an FIR as per the Tree Act,and a panchnama can be conducted.

Strangely,not many people appear to be taking this initiative. The eight cases where the matter reached court last year were all from the city.

Niranjan Shetty,a nominated member of the Tree Authority,is aghast at the number of illegal tree cutting cases he comes across in the city. “Recently,I was near a railway station when I saw some workers trimming large branches of a tree. When I asked them if they had acquired the necessary permission,they were unable to answer.  I immediately called horticultural assistant of C Ward to the spot,who told me that while permission had been sought,it had not yet been granted. I then contacted the police in their presence,but the police too didn’t arrive. I waited for another half an hour and left,” he recalls.

Shetty said that in their last meeting,the nominated members had demanded that the BMC should find out how many trees have been cut illegally and the action been taken. Rao said,“We have advised the assistant municipal commissioners of all 24 wards to take action against cases of illegal tree cutting.”

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