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Gardens: Amendments in Tree Act needed 

To amend certain sections of the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection & Preservation of Trees Act 1975 :
Amendment in certain sections of the said Tree Act is necessary. Some suggestions received are:
1)    Definition of tree : Suggestion is “Tree means any perennial woody plant having a main trunk and usually a distinct crown and usually having over 10 feet in height”. Shrubs should be excluded.
2)    "To fell a tree" definition should be further cleared by stating specifically the extent of damage to the tree.
3)    Tree Authority should consist of 6 to 12 persons instead of 5 to 15 and it should be proportionate as 1/3 among the councilor, 1/3 from NGO sector (as recommended by NGO Council) & 1/3 from ex. officials of Govt., Semi Govt. organizations working in the field.
4)    Every Tree Authority should have nominated members from the representative of NGOs  non officio members working in the field of plantation & preservation of trees in the State, Central & Semi Govt. organization.
5)    There should be mandatory provision in the duties for plantation of trees along roads, public spaces & gardens.
6)    No completion & occupation certificate in respect of any building should be issued unless the certificate of Tree Officer for plantation of trees as per the norms of Tree Authority.
7)    Tree Officer should be empowered to do horticultural pruning and also grant permission or give directives to any person including an officer of the urban local authority or an officer of the State Govt. or the Central Govt. who proposes to prune / cut the branches as a horticultural operation upto the diameter of 6” of the branch. The application shall be accompanied by the description of the tree required to be trimmed and reason therefore.
8)    Tree Officer should be empowered to give the permission for transplanting of those trees that can be transplanted having survival chances, by accepting the deposit decided by the Tree Authority in the cases where the development projects are approved by the competent authority of urban local authority or others or in case of trees that have become dangerous to life and property. Tree Officer to give directives & technical know how on transplanting of trees or authorized the applicant to get the technical advice from authorized horticulturists who have a degree in Botany/Horticulture/Forestry of a recognized University.
9)    The provision  “provided that, nothing in this section shall apply to the felling of trees on or along the public roads undertaken by the Public Works Deptt. Of the State or Central or Corporation” should be deleted.
10) Any authority or officer of urban local authority is empowered to give any permission for development of land and in case, the tree has collapsed / is damaged and removed in the process of the development of land by any means, Chairman, Tree Authority is empowered to impose suitable penalty in accordance the provision in the Act after getting the recommendations from the Tree Officer who will confirm and justify the reasons of removal of tree and Tree Officer will also give his recommendation for plantation of additional new trees of same species having almost 10’ to 15’ height.
[It is very important to give your views and suggestions to the above and any other parts of the Tree Act. Thanks. Vinay]

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