The Shiv Sena has suggested that there should be a gap of at least 21 days, instead of the current 15, between two meetings of the civic body’s Tree Authority. The move, it said, would serve the city’s green cover.
Sena leader and Standing Committee chairman Yashwant Jadhav has moved a notice of motion proposing changes in Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees (Amendment) Act, 2015, which states that meetings of the Tree Authority can be called once every 15 days or whenever the chairman of the committee (the municipal commissioner) decides to.
Jadhav has sought changes in the amendment Act and proposed that the gap between two meetings of the committee should be increased by six days.
The move came after the Sena, which runs BMC, failed to stall the felling of over 2,000 trees in Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon East. A proposal to cut and transplant 2,646 trees in Aarey for the proposed Metro 3 car depot was cleared by the Tree Authority despite the Sena’s opposition. Municipal commissioner, who heads the Tree Authority committee, had called at least four back-to-back meetings within a month (between August and September) to clear the proposal before model code of conduct was imposed ahead of the state election.
The meetings were seen as “very unusual”, as the Tree Authority generally meets once in 40 days, and had also irked the Sena leadership which was seeking more time to discuss the proposal and had sought a detailed study of people’s suggestions and objections submitted against the felling of tree. Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi, however, cleared the proposal to remove trees by vote on September 13.
On Tuesday, Jadhav told The Indian Express that Aarey tree cutting was the reason behind this proposal. “During Aarey tree cutting, the administration used it (the Act) to clear the proposal in a hurry by organising back-to-back meetings,” he said.
The new proposal moved by Jadhav says, “The amendment in Trees Act says that commissioner can organise meetings (of Tree Authority) whenever they want. Since the Tree Authority is clearing the proposals of tree cutting more frequently, city’s green cover is reducing very fast. This leads to irreversible damage to environment. To stop further damage to environment I am of opinion that the Trees Act should be amended once again and there has to be gap of 21 days between two meetings.”
According to the officials, the proposal will be tabled in the corporation’s meeting, where it is likely to be passed easily as the Sena has highest numbers of corporators. It will then be sent to the urban development department for an amendment in the Act.