Mumbai: Tree felling allowed with riders

The Bombay High Court has denied an interim stay on a recent amendment to the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act which had allowed civic bodies’ chiefs to have a final say in applications which sought the felling of trees below 25 in number. However, it upheld that the power vested with the municipal commissioner should not be “misused” and proposed certain checks that they should follow while considering the tree cutting proposals.

A division bench consisting of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla held that the chiefs of civic bodies cannot ‘routinely’ use these powers to allow proposals for cutting trees. These powers can only be used only in ‘exceptional’ or ‘emergency’ cases. It also asked the municipal commissioners to publish the orders of tree felling passed by them on the corporation’s official website and put up advertisements in newspapers so that the citizens are allowed to raise objections to them, if required.