Thane mayor Naresh Mhaske has written to the tree authority on Friday, urging it to investigate and lodge cases against officers for cutting trees reportedly in violation of the High Court order.
This comes a day after activists alleged that trees were being cut by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) officials for the Wadala-Ghatkopar-Thane-Kasar-vadavali Metro (Metro Line 4) project. Activists said at least six to seven trees were felled near Teen Hath Naka early on Thursday.
“The MMRDA officials think that if they cut trees in the middle of the night we wouldn’t know. But these trees are our family members, we are not fools,” an activist from the area said. He alleged that the trees were being cut against the High Court order and demanded strict actions against the accused officials.
In his letter to the tree authority, Mhaske said, “It has been brought to our attention that some trees were cut on the Teen Hath Naka illegally.” Stating that the matter was damaging the image of the Thane Municipal Corp-oration, Mhaske urged the tree authority to investigate the matter. “Find out if the trees were cut illegally and lodge criminal cases against the concerned contractor and officers,” the letter stated.
MMRDA officials said they had required permission to cut and transplant trees. “Maximum trees are being transplanted and not cut. We have received permission from the Thane tree authority,” Dilip Kavatkar, MMRDA spokesperson said. He added, “About this specific case, I will have to check with the chief engineer.”
Meanwhile, activists claimed that when they had raised the matter with MMRDA officials, they were told that the trees were not being chopped, but pruned. “Even if branches were cut, what was the need to do it in the middle of the night? The MMRDA thinks it can cut trees everywhere, like they did in Aarey, but we will not let that happen,” an activist said.