Mumbai has lost more than 25,000 trees
As reported by Mansi Choksi,TNN, 18 May 2008, 1112 hrs IST,
MUMBAI: More than 25,000 trees uprooted to make way for developmental projects have not been replanted. This is because those who uproot the trees can't be bothered about replanting them, and those who are supposed to ensure that this happens do little by way of follow-up action.
The rules may appear to be tree-friendly but in fact are not. According to the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Preservation of Trees Act, when permission for removal of trees is granted, the applicant has to plant three trees of the same or suitable species within 30 days from the date on which the tree is felled, or the time given by the tree officer, and must deposit at least Rs 2,000 for each tree felled.
The amount, which can even go up to Rs 5,000 depending on the species, is refunded within two years if the tree is deemed to be growing satisfactorily.
Data obtained under the Right to Information Act (RTI) revealed that the Tree Authority had collected Rs 9,24,19,000 for granting permission for removal of trees up to March 2006.
RL Wani, deputy superintendent of gardens (Tree Authority) confirmed that the deposit had gone up over the years.
"I don't have the exact figures but it must have increased by around Rs 2 crore,'' he said.
Nominated member of the Tree Authority Nilesh Baxi said, "One thing is certain-out of around 30,000 trees transplanted since 2000, not more than a couple have survived.
To assume that 25,000 have not been replanted because of the massive deposits is one inference. But, in many cases, smalltime builders who transplant trees don't reclaim the amount after getting the no-objection certificate.
They just write it off in their accounts because if they go to claim the amount, the tree officer may ask to assess the transplanted tree's growth and in most cases, after the tree is transplanted by the builder, they don't care to look after it.''
Baxi said the Tree Authority's bank account had Rs 50 crore in it. Most of it comes from the deposits for transplantation and the rest from the budget.
The law says that when a tree is axed, three others must be planted within a specified time. An amount of Rs 2,000-5,000 also has to be deposited with the authorities for every tree felled
This can be reclaimed within two years once it is established that the new plants are growing satisfactorily.
Information obtained under the RTI Act shows the Tree Authority has collected over Rs 9 crore by giving permission for cutting of trees up to 2006. It means well over 25,000 trees have either not been planted or have not survived.