Mumbai: BMC In Legal Trouble For Violating Tree Act; Activists Demand Action

Mumbai: BMC In Legal Trouble For Violating Tree Act; Activists Demand Action

Environmentalist sends notice to civic body, asking to remove electric wires from trees; warns of legal action otherwise

SHEFALI PARAB-PANDITUpdated: Friday, February 23, 2024, 08:31 PM IST
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Mumbai: BMC In Legal Trouble For Violating Tree Act; Activists Demand Action | Representational Image

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is brazenly violating  the law by illuminating trees unmindful of the damage it is causing to them.  Environmental activist  Rohit  Joshi has sent a legal notice to the civic body pointing out that the illumination of trees violates section 2 (c) and 8  of the Maharashtra Protection & Prevention of Trees Act, 1975. 

Details of the notice

The notice which has been sent by advocate Ronita Bhattacharya Bector points out that the illuminations are also contrary to an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT)  in Aditya Prasad vs Union of India which came down heavily against the use of electric wires etc on trees. Citations of NGT orders in Sahil Garg vs State of Punjab, orders of the Himachal Pradesh high court in Abhimanyu Rathor vs State of HP have also been included in the legal notice.

Joshi has demanded that  the BMC immediately remove wires and lights from all trees failing which legal proceedings would  be initiated against the civic body. Similar notices have been sent to Thane and Mira Bhayander municipal corporations too. 

Hazards of BMC's beautification plan

As part of its beautification plan, the BMC and other civic bodies have wrapped lights, illuminating thousands of them. Several trees, especially in Malabar Hill, Walkeshwar, Breach Candy and other areas, have been lit up for the last few months. Most of such lighting appears to be decorative, either for temporary festivals and religious holidays or in some locations it appears to be presented as a permanent attraction,  Mr Joshi stated. 

Joshi stated that the presence of wires and lights are detrimental to the health of the trees and extremely disruptive to birds at the time of their nest building and roosting. The bright lights are also disorienting to migratory birds. The notice also points out that, "Disruption to the natural habitat of birds also has a proportional impact on insects and rodents on trees. This can compromise the health of trees and also consequently cause nuisance to the persons residing in the vicinity of the affected trees." 

The lights pose danger to nature

Stalin D, an environmental activist, said, "The lights will disturb the nocturnal birds. Birds like owls hunt their prey at night but bright light will disturb them. We should have some sensitivity towards such creatures. Also, if the electricity leaks the trees might tolerate for sometime but gradually it will start dying. The government is ignored of these things."

Another activist, Vinod Gholap from Fight for Right Foundation said, “The electric fitting will harm the trees. When the civic body is spending lakhs of rupees on illuminating trees, they should also make efforts to increase green cover in the city.” Jitendra Pardeshi, BMC's superintendent of gardens said, “As per the Tree Act, appropriate action will be taken wherever it is necessary." But, in May 2023, BMC itself violated the law by installing LED lights on 15,000 trees dotting five roads in Juhu and Worli for the  G20 summit.

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