Taking suo moto cognizance of indiscriminate felling of trees across the city, the principal bench of NGT at New Delhi has asked its Pune bench to examine the legality of tree felling orders, and compliance of the provisions of relevant laws.
The principal bench took note of the 8th-October article published by Pune Pulse titled, “Pune Residents Condemn Tree Felling for Urban Development Projects”, wherein Ameet Singh, Hema Chari, Uma Khare, Maithili Manakawad, Ameya Jagtap, Rekha Joshi and Shailaja Deshpande, representing their respective organizations highlighted the adverse environmental impact of the large-scale felling of trees across Pune.
Speaking to this newspaper Ameet Singh, Hema Chari, Chaitanya Ket, and Gangotri Chanda reiterated that the tree administration in the Pune metropolitan region has totally broken down. This is because in contravention of the Tree Act, 1975, the Municipal Commissioner has assumed competitive roles of both the tree protector (as Chairman Tree Authority) and the tree feller (as the civic chief).
The State Tree Authority, provided under the Tree Act to oversee the local Tree Authority, has not even been notified by Government. Under the circumstances, claims Ameet Singh, “all the tree-felling orders passed by civic chief after 2015, since PMRDA came into existence, are patently illegal”.
Interestingly, while PMC’s Tree Officer engaged the citizens in a meeting at Ghole Road, their advocate preemptively obtained a 2-month long, ex-parte adjournment from NGT. However, advocate Rajendra Kumar Kale represeting Ameet Singh, Hema Chari and Sathya Natarajan filed a last-minute application to rescheduled the hearing on Monday, as directed by the principal bench.
“Knowing the concerned citizens as parties in the ongoing civil suit, it was an unethical move by PMC’s advocates, and such acts can lead to trust deficit between citizens and PMC”, said advocate Rajendra.
Gangotri said she is surprised that “PMC as a civic body should hide civic issues from the citizens!” “This was clearly done with the intent to destroy the trees before NGT could hear the citizens out”, added Hema Chari.