The tree cover in our cities is constantly under threat and is being diminished to give way for high-rise buildings amongst other things.
While our heart might ache for the environment, most of us feel helpless when we see someone cutting down a tree.
Well, in India, trees are covered under the Indian Forest Act, under which each state has laid down rules and regulations against tree felling. So, the next time you see a person doing this in any of these five major cities, don’t just stop and stare because here’s what you can do:
Trees in Mumbai are covered under the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Preservation of Trees Act 1975, and a tree cannot be felled without the prior permission of a Tree Officer. If you see a tree being felled in Mumbai, take the following steps:
a) Ask for a copy of the BMCs Tree Authority’s permission, which has the tree number, type and size, and the order to either cut or transplant the tree.
b) If no consent is shown, tweet a picture of the tree cutting, with a postal/google address to the Mumbai Police, @MumbaiPolice.
c) Find your local Tree Authority officer, as there is one in every ward in Mumbai.
In Delhi, a Tree Authority has been established under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act (1994), and its permission is required to cut or trim any tree. The Act mentions that no person shall fell, remove or dispose of any tree or any forest produce in any land, and if you want to do so, you need permission from a Tree Officer, who takes 60 days from the receipt of an application, to make a decision.
The Act also mandates that any person obtaining the permission to dispose of or cut the tree is bound to plant the same number and kind of tree in the area from where the tree has been felled.
So, if you see someone cutting a tree in Delhi, check to see if they have the written permission from the Tree Officer. The helpline for any complaints regarding felling or damaging of trees is 23378513.
Chennai requires that a person felling a tree has prior permission from the Greater Chennai Corporation. The permission form, which is on the corporation’s website, has various columns, which a person has to fill up, justifying the action.
If you see someone who is felling a tree in Chennai, ask for the written permission slip, granted from the Corporation. If the person cannot show it to you, call the cops.
Tree felling in Karnataka is covered under the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act 1976. The act explicitly mentions that no person can fell any tree, or cause any tree to be felled in any land, whether in their ownership or occupancy or otherwise, except with the previous permission of the Tree Officer.
When you see someone cutting a tree in Bengaluru, approach them and ask if they have permission from the Tree Officer, and the BBMP, with the signature of the former and the seal of the latter.
If they don’t have permission, you can call the Tree Officer. For BBMP limits, there are two Tree Officers. The Tree Officer (North) covers Dasarahalli, East Zone, Mahadevpura, Bytarayanapura, and can be reached on 080-22485317, 9480683127 or 9480683013. The Tree officer (South) covers the South Zone, West Zone, Bomannahalli, Raja Rajeshwari Nagar,
and can be reached on 080-2657 8423, 94806 83842, 9480684641.
Next, it would help if you also informed the local police station that a tree is being cut without permission and that it is a criminal offence under the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act.
If you are not able to reach the Tree Officer or the Police station, call the BBMP Control Room at 080-22221188/080-22975595/080-22225657 and inform them of the offence.
Tree felling in the city is governed under the West Bengal Trees (Protection and Conservation in Non-Forest Areas) Act, 2006. To fell a tree in Kolkata, you need the permission of the forest department and the Calcutta Municipal Corporation.
If you see people cutting down trees in Kolkata, ask for their identity, and whether they have the permission of the forest department and the civic body. If the party cannot show you the approval in the form of documents, alert the forest department’s forest utilisation division—if the felling is within Kolkata city limits—or the divisional forest officer (DFO)—if the felling takes place in the districts. You can also lodge a police complaint, for destroying public property, as trees on the pavement are considered public property, and no individual has the authority to fell a tree there.
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The forest department may grant permission for tree felling, only if five saplings are planted for each tree felled. Cross-check with the person felling the tree, if they have fulfilled this pre-condition.
You can reach the Calcutta Municipal Corporation at 033-22861212/1414, or visit the forest department’s office at Lyon’s Range to report the incident.
Well, the next time you happen to see a tree being felled in Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai, you know what to do!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)