Activists urge civic chief to stop random tree felling

Green activists on Monday said municipal commissioner Kunal Kumar should hold hearing on every application of tree felling and stop haphazard chopping in the city.

This comes a day after a group of activists alleged illegal felling of eight trees by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) at the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) circle during the small hours of Sunday .

The activists claimed that the authorities had not conducted any hearing before cutting the trees. As the chairman of the civic body’s tree authority , they said, Kumar should hold hearings by November 5 to ensure that no tree was cut without a valid reason.

Though the activists did not meet Kumar on Monday , they said to have received a communication from his office that a meeting would be held soon on the issue.

On Sunday , the activists had swung into action on being alerted that eight trees had been chopped at the circle near SPPU between 1.30am and 3.30am and claimed to have prevented felling of five more trees around 5am, Activist Vinod Jain said plans were afoot to seek the Bombay high court’s intervention against the powers given to the municipal commissioner to take a call on cutting of 25 trees in a particular area.

“The state government’s decision to amend the tree protection Act is against the protection of environment.We will challenge it. Instances of cutting of trees near SPPU will be a frequent affair if the commissioner gets the powers to permit tree cutting. How can a single authority grant permission to cut trees without holding any hearing?“ he asked.

Vaishali Patkar of the Area Sabha Association of Pune said the newly formed tree authority needed to conduct hearings and make spot visits before felling of any tree. “PMC has not taken any steps towards this. The civic administration should initi ate steps to increase the city’s green cover. This will not be possible in a haphazard way of functioning,“ she said.

Source : TOI