The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on Monday passed an amendment bill which allows classification of 50-year-old trees as "heritage" trees with an aim to increase the forest cover .
The amendment to the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act 1975 was tabled by Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray.
The amendment bill seeks to conserve old trees in urban areas and also tightens the rules for felling of trees for development works. It aims to increase the number of trees to be planted in lieu of the axed tree.
With the amendment passed, it will be made mandatory to plant trees equivalent to the age of the tree in case felling of trees is allowed for development projects.
The planted trees need to be 6-8 feet in height and the survival of such trees should be ensured by geo-tagging. The permission for felling of more than 200 trees should come from the Maharashtra State Tree Authority.
The amendment bill also proposed the census of trees every five years with the use of new technology such as GIS-based application.