Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday pulled up the Tree Authority of Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) and also restrained it from issuing any order to cut down trees. The HC clearly said it would not allow the Authority to uproot a single tree, unless it is satisfied with the constitution of the panel in accordance with the law.
A division bench of Justice Abay Oka and Justice Pradeep Deshmukh observed, “It appears there has been a complete non-application of mind in constituting the Tree Authority. Let us make it clear that we are not going to allow the Authority to uproot a single tree unless we are satisfied that it has been constituted in accordance with law.”
The judges further said, “In the meantime, the Authority can process applications (for cutting trees) but cannot pass any order or take decisions of uprooting, transplanting or felling trees. However, in case of an emergency pertaining to the safety of people and property, the Thane Municipal Commissioner can take a decision.” While suggesting the Thane civic body to take the matter seriously, Justice Oka observed, “We want to save the trees as there appears to be a gross non-application of mind before constituting this panel. We hope the Thane civic body takes this matter seriously.”
The observations were made in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Thane-based Rohan Joshi, highlighting the inefficiency of the councillors and other members of the panel, who are appointed in the Tree Authority. The petition alleges that the members on this panel are not educated in the subjects related to trees.
It claims that except three members, who are graduates in science/botany/agriculture fields, rest all have no educational qualification but have managed to be on the panel owing to their political clout. The matter would be next heard on February 21.