Mumbai: Permission for felling 2,646 trees yet to be given, BMC tells high courthttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/mumbai-permission-felling-trees-yet-to-be-given-bmc-tells-high-court-5967230/

Mumbai: Permission for felling 2,646 trees yet to be given, BMC tells high court

A petition filed by Zoru Bhathena, challenging the decision of Tree Authority to approve felling of trees, said that the resolution dated August 29, passed by the authority for the removal of trees was a “brazen breach” of the high court’s order passed in July this year.

Express News Service Mumbai, August 27 AN ANALYSIS of 87 government orders and circulars pertaining to the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, issued by various government departments in Maharashtra has found that only two orders, one from the office of the Governor of Maharashtra, and one from the forest department, are “in conflict with the letter and spirit” of the law, according to researchers at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). The TISS has prepared a compendium of all 87 government orders relating to the FRA between 2008 and 2018. The compendium cites a notification from the office of the Governor of Maharashtra dated November 14, 2017, permitting transfer of tribal lands for vital government projects without prior sanction of the gram sabha, as having led to resentment among the tribal community in the state. The second conflicting order, the report says, is regarding the Maharashtra Village Forest Rules (VFR), 2014, issued by the forest department. “VFR seeks to involve the forest department in the management of community forest areas in collaboration with the communities without acknowledging the role of the gram sabha in the management of forest, as recognised under Section 5 of the FRA,” it says. The TISS compendium, prepared by Geetanjoy Sahu, Assistant Professor from School of Habitat Studies, TISS, along with MPhil scholar Paul Fernandes, PhD scholar Anuja Anil Date of Bengaluru-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) and others, is part of its continuing work on forest rights and forest governance. Not only is Maharashtra among the top five states in recognising forest rights claims, it has also undertaken initiatives to support FRA beneficiaries vis-a-vis improving land productivity, basic amenities and livelihood measures. The compilation is expected to be useful for policy-makers, officers, district administrations, civil society groups and others interested in the implementation of the FRA. The 87 orders were issued by the tribal development department that is the nodal agency for FRA implementation and also by other departments, including the rural development department, revenue and forest department, planning department and the Office of the Governor of Maharashtra. At 63 orders, the tribal development department issued the most number of orders pertaining to the FRA. “Most of these orders are innovative and progressive as they seek to enhance the livelihood of forest dwellers and manage forest resource through a decentralised governance process. For example, the tribal development department has shown keen interest in facilitating the preparation of community forest resource management and planning in several ways,” the report says.
The HC order said the opinion of expert members on the team must be valued and should become an essential facet of decision-making. This decision must contain the reason why the objection was being overruled, it added.

The BMC Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that they have just taken a decision to fell 2,646 trees for the construction of Metro car shed at Aarey, but permission for the same was yet to be given.

A petition filed by Zoru Bhathena, challenging the decision of Tree Authority to approve felling of trees, said that the resolution dated August 29, passed by the authority for the removal of trees was a “brazen breach” of the high court’s order passed in July this year.

The HC order said the opinion of expert members on the team must be valued and should become an essential facet of decision-making. This decision must contain the reason why the objection was being overruled, it added.

Senior counsel Ravi Kadam, for the BMC, told the court that the permission to fell trees was yet to be given, and that it was just a decision taken by the Tree Authority. He also informed the court that according to the Tree Act, no tree shall be felled until 15 days after such a permission is given.

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Senior advocate Janak Dwarkadas told the court that they were challenging the procedure which was followed by the Tree Authority, to which Kadam said that the “challenge is made on the basis of draft of minutes of the meeting, which they had stolen and I will mention about that in my affidavit”.

A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre allowed BMC to file its reply in a week and posted the matter on September 17.

The petition alleged that resolution was passed “in haste due to the impending Assembly elections and the model code of conduct likely to come into effect”.