SC restrains Pune civic body from felling trees for widening road in city

The Supreme Court has restrained the Pune civic body from felling trees till December 21 for widening one of the roads in the city to enable a litigant to move the Bombay High Court with the grievance.

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has decided to widen the Ganeshkhind Road stretch from the Savitribai Phule Pune University junction to Sancheti Chowk from the existing 36 metres to 45 metres.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwla and Manoj Misra took note of the submissions of senior lawyer Najmi Waziri appearing for the petitioner, and ordered that till Thursday no tree will be cut for widening the road.

“In order to enable the appellants to have a reasonable time to approach the High Court, we direct that no further felling of trees shall take place between the date of this order (from December 15) and till 5 pm of 21 December 2023 for the widening of Ganeshkhind Road,” the bench ordered.

While disposing of the plea filed by one Ameet Gurucharan Singh, the top court said since it was leaving the matter to the high court to take an appropriate decision, its order “shall not be construed as any expression of opinion on merits”.

It noted a PIL was filed before the Bombay High Court by an organisation Parisar Sanrakshan Sanwardhan Sanstha’ in October this year pertaining to the procedure adopted by the Pune Municipal Corporation in granting permission for felling trees to facilitate widening of the Ganeshkhind Road.

The PIL was disposed of with certain observations and directions including that the Tree Authority, which is the final authority empowered to take a decision in the matter, needed to consider not only the report and recommendations submitted by the Tree Officer but also the objections and suggestions that may be filed by the general public.

“We, thus, find that the Tree Authority while issuing the impugned Notification dated 18th September 2023, hardly had any time either to consider the report and recommendations made by the Tree Officer or to take into consideration the objections and suggestions, which he might have received through the Tree Officer, from the members of the general public…,” the high court had said.

The high court had directed that the Tree Officer shall publish a fresh public notice giving a period of at least seven days for furnishing the objections and suggestions, in view of the permissions sought for felling of trees.

The Tree Authority, while publishing a public notice, shall also personally inspect the trees, hold an inquiry and mention in the advertisement that if the trees to be removed are heritage trees, and determine the age of the trees sought to be removed as per the criteria and method which may have been notified by the government, it had said.

Also Read

Later, a petition was filed at the western zone National Green Tribunal which declined to grant any interim relief and listed the proceedings for January 25 next year.

It was alleged that though the appellants were heard by the Pune Municipal Corporation, no order was passed and, in the meantime, felling of the trees started.

“Rather than entertaining the appeal which arises from an interim order of the NGT, we are of the considered opinion that it would be appropriate if the appellants are granted liberty to move the High Court of Judicature at Bombay either in a substantive proceeding or by moving an application in PIL …so as to draw the attention of the High Court to the manner in which its directions have been complied with by the Municipal Corporation.

“In the event that the appellants do so, we request the Chief Justice of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay to take up the proceedings with all reasonable dispatch,” the top court ordered while restraining the PMC from felling the trees for the time being.

Related Articles

Latest Articles