The Act, which was amended in the previous week’s two-day monsoon session of the state legislature, states that all proposals for cutting more than 200 trees for any project must go to the Maharashtra State Tree Authority and not before the BMC’s Tree Authority.
The fact that Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act has been amended in an attempt to protect the state’s green cover is welcome. However, the state must urgently constitute the state level tree authority and take suggestions and objections from citizens on various tree-cutting proposals such as for the Sewri-Worli connector. Efforts must be taken to ensure that only a minimum number of trees are hacked.
This means the proposal to hack over 300 trees for MMRDA’s Sewri-Worli connector will have to be sent to the Maharashtra State Tree Authority and the proposal cannot be approved by the BMC’s Tree Authority, green activists have pointed out.
“The Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act was amended recently. It states all proposals for felling over 200 trees must be sent to the state-level tree authority and not the BMC’s. So, notices issued by the BMC for hacking these trees must be withdrawn. As per the amended Act, only the state government can issue notes and hear suggestions/objections for proposals where over 200 trees are to be hacked,” said green activist Zoru Bhathena.
More than 550 trees will be felled and transplanted for the upcoming Sewri-Worli connector that will connect Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) and a proposed redevelopment project at Worli. The BMC’s garden department last week issued a public notice inviting suggestions and objections for felling 329 trees. Apart from them, 123 trees are to be transplanted.
MMRDA started construction of MTHL in 2018. The 21.8km-long six-lane road over-bridge is expected to halve travel time between Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. The implementation of the Act was transferred from the urban development (UD) department to the environment department too.
“Its true the Tree Act has been amended. So we will take suggestions/objections from citizens and then ask MMRDA to try and reduce the number of trees that are to be cut. If they are less than 200, we will take a call or then this proposal will have to be sent to the state government. We will inform MMRDA accordingly,” said a BMC official.