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BMC to Bombay High Court: Allowed trimming of trees only after considering public’s ‘safety’


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Mumbai: In a bid to justify its ‘directive’ asking private entities to ‘trim’ trees before the onset of monsoon, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday said it considered ‘public safety’ before allowing chopping of trees. The civic body further went on to claim it has only allowed trimming of dead or dangerous trees, as they pose a serious threat to citizens as well as the lives of the trees.

The Gardens Department of BMC made this ‘justification’ through its affidavit submitted before a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla. The affidavit was filed in response to a petition moved by activist Zoru Bhathena accusing the civic body of allowing chopping of trees under the guise of monsoon preparedness. By way of this plea, Bhathena had sought stay on the trimming of trees.

In its affidavit, the civic body stated, “Trimming of trees is nothing but an act of maintenance of trees by pruning away irregular or unwanted parts of a tree. Regular trimming is important for the life and safety of the tree and also in the interest of the safety of the public at large.”

“Broken and diseased branches which are not removed may fall and seriously injure someone. Therefore, to help keep the trees healthy and people safe, it is necessary to carry out regular trimming of trees. A failure to undertake timely trimming would pose a threat to the life of the citizens as well as the trees,” the affidavit reads.

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The affidavit further states that in heavy rains and gusty winds, the trees may become dangerous due to irregular growth of certain branches and hence it ultimately hampers the services of local trains and more importantly poses a threat to the life and safety of the public at large.

The BMC slammed the activists for ‘misleading’ the court by equating pruning of unwanted parts of trees to cutting of the trees. The civic body further claimed that the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Preservation and Protection of Trees Act, 1975, allows trimming of the trees without any prior sanction from the Municipal Commissioner.

“The civic officials usually conduct ward-wise inspections regarding trimming of trees. Even the concerned entities, before trimming the trees have to intimate the civic officials. Thus, all the trimming activity is under the supervision of the BMC and its officials,” the affidavit states. The affidavit has been taken on record by the bench headed by Justice Oka. The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on next Tuesday.

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