Proposals for cutting of more than 25 trees would have to be sent to the Tree Authority of that particular civic body.
Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Monday ruled that municipal commissioners cannot on their own issue orders to cut trees for developmental projects. A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagala hearing a public interest case said the civic officials will need to take into account experts’ opinion and public objection before issuing orders to remove trees, even if the number of trees was less than 25.
The court, however, clarified that the commissioners on their own could exercise their powers in a case of an emergency where there is a clear apprehension of casualties due to the accidental falling of trees.
The PIL was filed by activist Zoru Bhathena challenging the amended section of the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act allowing the civic commissioners to issue orders to cut or remove less than 25 trees without consulting experts or public.
Proposals for cutting of more than 25 trees would have to be sent to the Tree Authority of that particular civic body. The petitioner alleged that it is arbitrary and unconstitutional. He also said that commissioner was not an expert to decide on the cutting of trees. The court said the commissioners will have to seek the opinion from experts including from horticulture.