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Activists stop felling of 46 trees



The Times of India, Nashik, 5th September, 2014


NASHIK: The process to cut 46 trees to widen the Lam Road in Deolali has been halted considering the application made by activist Ashwini Bhat to the district collector to stay the tree cutting.


On Thursday, the contractor marked the trees that would be visited by the district collector before he gives the stay order. "I have put up signs and plates on the trees that are to be cut. These trees will actually be auctioned. I have the permission letter of the cantonment board but was informed on Thursday that the collector would be visiting the spot. That is why I marked the trees for identification," said Ramesh Gite, the contractor, who has been assigned the task of cutting the trees.


The trees are facing the axe as the 2.5-km Lam Road is being widened. An official from the district collector's office said that the collector would be visiting the spot in a day or two.


A couple of days ago, Bhat noticed that the trees were about to be hacked and asked for the permission letter from the contractor. "They had the permission of the cantonment board but as per the Bombay high court order in May, permission has to be sought from the HC for any single tree to be cut. Moreover, as per the Protection and Conservation of Tree Act, transplantation should be considered and trees should be planted in lieu of the ones to be cut," Bhat said.


Activists said that they would agitate if the trees were cut or not transplanted and would also go to the court. "We have started with a signature campaign and will protest on the streets if the trees are cut," said Jagbir Singh of Manav Utthan Manch (MuM).


While activists threatened to agitate alleging violations of the law, cantonment board has said that they have followed all the rules.


Chief officer of Deolali Cantonment Board Pushpendra Singh said, "It is good that the activists are alert but we have followed all the rules. We have planted 300 trees of banyan, peepal, neem and others in the school and army unit premises in June. We have also given 54 saplings to an NGO. The HC order is only for the municipal limits and this area does not come under the jurisdiction of the forest department."


He added that the roads have to be realigned in a manner that will save maximum trees and all the precautions have been taken. He said that for transplantation, they would need more than Rs 60-70 lakh. "But we will definitely reconsider the activists' proposal," he said.