Pune: Petition filed in NGT against tree felling ahead of PM rally

PUNE : Two city-based law students have filed a petition with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against Sir Parashurambhau College, or SP College, for allegedly flouting environmental norms and cutting 20 to 25 fully-grown subabul trees.

The trees, which were axed on Monday night, stood close to the periphery of the college ground that hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign rally on October 17. A well-tarred road had been laid at the site, almost overnight, in order to facilitate the smooth movement of the PM’s convoy.

The petition also mentions Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and its Tree Authority department. The petitioners — SP College alumnus Madan Kurhe (23) and Bodhi Ramteke (21) — allege that the municipal corporation granted “quick” permission and favoured SP College, which had submitted its application after October 9.

The petition, filed with the western bench of NGT, questions the PMC’s role as several similar applications, some dating back to six months, are pending with the department.

“The application is being filed under sections 14, 15 of NGT Act 2010 since it involves substantial questions relating to environment and restitution of environment,” stated the petition.

As per procedure, once the Tree Authority receives an application, a team has to inspect the site, carry out panchanama of the trees that are proposed to be cut, submit a report and convene a meeting in this regard before arriving at a decision.

“The PMC has to follow all these mandatory procedures before awarding permission to any party. We are seeking
that no trees be cut at the behest of any political party that seeks permission to hold any kind of public rally or similar events,” said advocate Asim Sarode, who is representing the petitioners.

A similar controversy had erupted a few days ago, when a number of trees were trimmed and their main branches cut off on Sinhagad Road for the Mahajanadesh Yatra of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.