Maharashtra govt clears an amendment to protect “heritage trees”

What is the News?

The Maharashtra Government has cleared an amendment to the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act,1975.

What are the key features of the amended act? The key features are:

  • Concept of Heritage Tree: A tree with an estimated age of 50 years or more shall be defined as a heritage tree. It may belong to specific species which will be notified from time to time.
  • Method to determine the age of the tree: The environment department in consultation with the forest department will issue guidelines to determine the age of the tree.
  • Compensatory Plantation:
    • Compensatory plantation will include planting the number of trees equivalent to the age of trees to be cut.
    • The saplings need to be six to eight feet in height while planting, and they will undergo geo-tagging with seven years of caring period.
    • The option of monetary compensation has also been given, instead of the compensatory plantation.
  • Formation of Maharashtra Tree Authority:
    • The Tree Authority will have responsibility related to the protection and conservation of trees, including heritage trees.
    • The chairman of the tree authority in the case of a municipal council shall be the chief officer of the council. Experts will also be part of the authority.
    • The authority will hear applications seeking permission to cut 200 or more trees that are five or more years old.
    • The local tree authorities will come under this body. These bodies will ensure that the tree census is conducted after every five years.
    • They will also be in charge of
      • Counting heritage trees,
      • Ensuring the preservation of trees,
      • Keeping tabs on tree plantation,
      • Pruning and caring for trees and
      • Ensuring that 33% of government land is used for tree plantation.
  • Tree Cess: The State authority will issue directions for the use of tree cess. The fine amount cannot be more than ₹1 lakh per tree in case of violations.

Source: The Hindu

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