Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation begins probe against developer for illegally hacking over 200 trees

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) garden department has begun an inquiry against a developer for illegally hacking over 200 trees to clear the area for a commercial building at Marol, in the western suburbs.

The inquiry was launched following the allegation by BJP Corporator and tree authority member Abhijit Samant, who raised a point of order in the tree authority meeting last week. Samant said the developer had chopped over 200 trees, as against the tree authority’s approval to cut only 11 trees and transplant 41 others. Samant added, “Residents alerted me about the illegal hacking of trees. Even the trees that have been transplanted in a nearby playground, have not survived.”

In a permission letter dated August 14 2020, the tree authority approved cutting of 11 trees, transplantation of 41, while directing the developer that the remaining 292 trees on the plot in Marol village should be retained. The proposal proponent was also directed to plant 22 trees and intimate the civic body about the same.

Before a proposal is tabled before the tree authority, the garden department inspects the areas and tags and number all the trees that have to be cut, transplanted and retained. Before the proposal proponent can begin the tree cutting process, they have to inform the garden department or tree officer of the respective ward.

As per Section 11 of the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of the Trees Act, 1975, the developer is directed to give an undertaking that good care will be taken of the newly planted trees. The developer is directed to submit a bi-annual report of the newly planted trees for the next three years.

Samant asked the tree authority headed by the municipal commissioner to look into complaints by the residents. Jitendra Pardeshi, superintendent of the gardens department said, “It is a big plot and had over 300 trees. Based on the point of order in the meeting, we have initiated an inquiry and it will be submitted to the municipal commissioner, in seven days, starting Monday.”

In addition to the allegation of illegal cutting of trees, the report will look into the number of trees cut, and if any trees which were asked to be retained have been cut. The second part will look into trees that have been transplanted and if the trees have survived

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