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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cut Tree, Set Free

Now you can cut trees as much as you can and be relaxed as Pune Municipal Corporation will not take any action on you. They will just send you notice or warning for the name sake. this is the condition in city now. There are various people who cut trees and not being punished. This is with reference to the one of builder in the city. He found out innovative way to kill tree also few years ago He had chopped down hundred of trees few year ago and he got warning letter from PMC only. And many more tree killers are set free in the society.

In spite having ban on cutting tree, many trees are being cut by builders in the city. Various tree cutting incidences are also increasing in the city. This ultimately affects us reducing green cover and oxygen. Builder Arvind Jain had chopped 128 trees in 2010 and in recent incident two trees are killed in unique way so that can be removed without hesitation. While talking about it Ravindra Salgaonkar, a BJP member of Model Colony said “He removed the soil near roots so it cannot get water and die and if you see the condition presently it has dried now he can show that dried tree and get permission to cut it down. If such things continued then one day there will not be tree anymore.”

He also alleged that PMC’s garden department dillydallies while talking action “last time he chopped around 128 trees on plot near Ganeshkhind road near Mofatlala Bungalow and after observation garden department only served show cause notice and then send notice and the procedure stopped. If garden department have taken action at that time then he must have thought twice before killing two more trees at another site,” Salgaonkar added. The case was under Assistant commissioner Mane, who only serves notice to the Jain.

Cityblog has RTI document which reviles that the notice and warning has been send to the Jain, in spite taking an action on the builder the case closed by garden department. In another case another resident of the Paud road cut down the 10 full grown trees and in spite filling a case hearing is delaying in court. While talking about it one of the member of Pune Tree Authority on the condition of anonymity said “In such cases if the complaint got register, it is necessary that both the parties should be present for the hearing in court but many times PMC employees avoid to present for hearing.

Tree cutting without high court permission is increasing in city and very few cases being register against offenders. In another case one bungalow owner at Manmohan society in Karvenagar started to cut down a full-grown tree recently. When this reporter intervened and asked him about the permission for tree cutting, he said that he already had applied for the same more than four months ago but the garden department had not responded yet and that he could not wait any longer. When neighbor asked for the reason owner said that the branches obstructed light and some branches fell down which was dangerous. But instead of trimming the branches the owner thought it appropriate to cut down the whole tree. However the real reason was apparent - that the tree was obstructing the visibility of the playhouse run by the owner.

Few months ago the issue of the illegal tree cutting for the President Pratibha Patil’s bungalow at Kirkee was hot in the city. Around 20 trees were chopped illegally for the construction of the Bungalow.

Saving trees is need of the hour

The lack of Tree authority to regulating felling of trees and providing for planning of new trees in those areas is not here in the city. The recent finding by some city based activist find this. As per the Maharashtra Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 2009, the tree authority should include members of non-government organizations that are registered with social forestry department and should have experience of working for preservation of trees for at least 10 years.

City activist Vinod Jain had filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 asking for information of such organizations. In reply to another RTI query by Jain in March 2012, the garden department of the PMC said the tree authority does not exist.

“The tree authority is to appoint a tree officer. But even though the tree authority does not exist, a notice about tree felling was published in a local newspaper on March 23, 2012, undersigned by tree officer. The garden department also surveyed 34 places where tree felling is to be carried out,” said Jain.

Few more points

Noted tree lovers Vinod Jain, Juneja Singh, Vaibhav Gandhi and Shrinivas Lele had filed a writ petition in the HC on May 6, 2009, urging for illegal tree cutting in the city to be halted. They had also requested the court to allow PMC to give permission for tree cutting. As per the plea, the court has asked that PMC grant permissions only after getting requisite permission from the court.

The petitioners alleged that over 80,000 trees were illegally hacked in the city in the five years prior to 2009, thereby causing a reduction in the city's green cover. Systematic tree census and numbering on the trees were also some the demands placed before the court.

The garden department has said that even though 4,266 trees have been cut down illegally in the last few years, only 21 cases have been filed,


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