Adhere to norms on protecting trees: MoEF

Mumbai : The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEF) directed the BMC to adhere to the norms issued under “Urban Greening Guidelines, 2014” which mentions the ill-effects on trees due to concretisation of pavements and cementing roads.

By doing so, the MOEF confirms the concerns of city-based NGO Vanashakti, which took the BMC to the National Green Tribunal over this matter a few months ago. Vanashakti accused the BMC of not adhering to norms regarding road and pavement concretisation for protection of trees. Based on Vanashakti’s application, the NGT had directed the BMC to deconcretise all trees of Mumbai within three months.

In response to Vanashakti’s affidavit, which made MOEF a respondent in the matter, the ministry replied that it has no specific role in the matter, as this is the responsibility of the concerned local body. However, the ministry directed the BMC to adhere to guidelines already issued by the Ministry of Urban Development.

The guidelines read: “A minimum area of 1.25 m X 1.25m around the frees should be left un-cemented, widening of roads up to the trunk of trees is to be avoided as roots come under the asphalted roads which will gradually die. In case of a storm, these trees may topple. Activities which adversely affect the roots are to be minimised.”

NGT had found the BMC flouting these guidelines. BMC had claimed that it had removed asphalt and created basins for 8,484 trees across Mumbai, on the court’s directions.

The BMC listed areas of Malad, Malwani, Juhu and Andheri where they created basins around 1,860 trees.

Sceptical of this development, Vanashakti took up inspection of trees in these areas and found some basins to be less than 1.5 feet in diameter, much below the prescribed standard.

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