Claim that constitution of BMC’s Tree Authority violates Bombay high court order.
Mumbai: The permission given by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for cutting trees in Aarey for the metro car shed is illegal, claimed activists.
In June this year, the BMC had given the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) permission to remove 105 trees for the metro car shed. But activists have claimed that the civic body’s Tree Authority remains illegally constituted with no independent experts on the committee, which is a violation of Bombay high court’s order this year.
The order entailed that the Tree Authority cannot give permission to cut trees until it is formed according to the guidelines of the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act 1975, which must include independent experts.
Zoru Bhathena, a Mumbai based tree-activist, said that he will be moving court in this matter. The MMRC has already started cutting trees after receiving permission for cutting 105 trees and transplanting 32 trees. The proposal to cut trees stated that the trees are coming in the way of the pylon termination substation and road diversion adjacent to the metro car depot in Aarey Colony.
Earlier in April this year, the HC had directed in its order pertaining to Thane and Mumbai trees, that non-official members, with expertise in plantation and preservation of trees and belonging to different NGOs, should be appointed in the Tree Authority of municipal corporations. The number of such appointed experts in the Tree Authority should not exceed the number of corporators. “The BMC’s tree authority has 13 members, all of which are corporators.
There are no independent experts. The high court order clearly stated that the newly-constituted tree authority can start functioning only after it is properly constituted with seven corporators, preferably science graduates and seven tree experts.
Yet the BMC gave permission to cut trees in June,” said Bhathena. He has also claimed that sanction for this particular proposal was not published on websites, despite the court’s directions to do so.
Meanwhile, the BMC has maintained that the Tree Authority has been legally constituted. “The candidates did not match with the eligibility criteria laid down by the Tree Act to qualify as a tree expert,” said a member of the Tree Authority on the condition of anonymity.