The state legislature has passed an amendment bill that allows 50-year-old trees to get the “heritage” tag. This will help in increasing 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 the felling of trees to carry out infra projects. It aims to increase the number of trees to be planted, in lieu of the trees axed.
“Amendment of the act was approved by both the Houses. It will majorly restrict the felling of trees in the name of development and help preserve our heritage trees. I want to thanks all members for supporting it.’’
The act facilitates the identification of heritage trees and the formation of the Maharashtra Tree Authority that will look into cases where more than 200 trees are proposed to be cut. Besides, the act will help determine the age of the tree and compensate tree plantation equal to its age.
It will be mandatory to plant trees equivalent to the age of the tree in case felling.
The planted trees need to be six to eight feet in height and the survival of such trees should be ensured by geo-tagging. The permission for the felling of more than 200 trees should come from the Maharashtra State Tree Authority.
The amendment bill also proposed tree census to be carried out every five years using technology like GIS-based application.