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' Cumbersome' law hits tree pruning drive.

A SIMPLE law, mainly aimed at preventing unnecessary felling of trees in the Capital, has become a bone of contention between municipal authorities and the forest department, leaving thousands of trees unpruned.

The lack of pruning exercise, which is generally undertaken in winter season by the civic body's horticulture department, has caused extended tree branches to intrude into several houses and public spaces, causing inconvenience to city residents.

According to the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994, municipal agencies need to seek permission of the state forest department for pruning trees in their areas.

The municipal corporation officials said the forest department was making their job more cumbersome by applying the law which required horticulture staff to take a written permission from it.

The forest department, on its part, said stringent adherence to the law was required as in many cases of pruning, the contractors appointed by municipal corporations cut down entire trees for the lure of free timber.

" The Act states that for any work of cutting or pruning, whether heavy or light, a person needs permission from the forest department," an official said.

So, while residents are worried over tree branches reaching out to their verandas, stopping sunlight at public parks and disrupting electricity supply, horticulture officials express their helplessness saying that complaints were received from the forest department that proper procedure was not being followed while seeking permission from them.

While both sides bicker, residents call the law " foolhardy and impractical" and demand urgent pruning in their areas.

" We do not require such foolhardy laws. The forest department is causing undue nuisance with their stringency on getting rid of unwanted trees. If trees are not pruned this time, they are bound to snap, as they do, during monsoons and windy seasons causing electrocution and damage to our property," Rajiv Kakria, president of Greater Kailash RWA, said.

" Things are looking grim because this time we haven't seen any tree being pruned," he added.

In a house meeting of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, several councillors expressed their anguish over the ignorance being shown by the horticulture department of the corporation. They also said that Delhi government's forest department was intentionally making the process cumbersome for the agency.

" For every exercise of pruning of big trees, the corporation has to take written permission from the forest department which the latter gives only after the physical inspection of the trees. As the corporation has to prune thousands of trees located in its parks and colonies, getting permission has become a troublesome process," an SDMC official, said.

He said that while the rule existed earlier too, it was not implemented this strictly.

Councillors are complaining about the lack of pruning this year. " When I called up the horticulture department after receiving complaints from RWA representatives, I was simply told that the job couldn't be done this time," Nutan Kocher, councillor from Hauz Rani, said.

The Delhi government, however, feels the root of the problem lies in poor implementation of the pruning process by the municipal corporations.

" We have always told the MCD to go ahead with the minor pruning process. However, we too get routine complaints by the RWAs saying the contractors employed by the corporations to clean and spruce up the trees took most of it away... therefore we are bound to show some stringency from our side," environment and forest secretary Sanjiv Kumar said.

The leader of the house in South Delhi, Subhash Arya, said the allegations against the MCD were unjustified and baseless. Trees being cut down could be an aberration not a trend, he said, and if the government has found such cases it has all the right to punish the guilty. " But blaming the entire corporation was unfair," he said.

Arya said the civic agency has no personal interest in pruning trees and the yearly pruning was only an exercise meant to clean up the trees and clear away unwanted branches.

For trees to be pruned MCD needs permission

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Nov 30, 2012
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