The forest department has booked the GDA under Section 4/10 of the Uttar Pradesh Tree Protection Act 1976 for pruning trees in the “city forest area” without taking prior permission from the department.
Yesterday morning, Ruchin Mehra, an environmental activist from Rajnagar Extension, witnessed hundreds of trees being heavily pruned in the “city forest area” of Rajnagar Extension. He promptly alerted the authorities and spread the word through social media.
Forest department personnel immediately visited the site to verify the claims.
The so-called "pruned" trees
"We surveyed the area and saw that heavy pruning has been done for over 100 trees without seeking prior permission from the department," said Navratan Singh, range forest officer.
Giving out more details, he said 18 trees were severely damaged, while 80 others were heavily pruned.
A case has been registered against the GDA, confirmed Singh.
When City Spidey asked why AR Rahi, horticulture in-charge with GDA, why permission wasn’t sought, he replied, “This pruning was routine work that happened during every monsoon. So, technically permission was not needed.”
Rahi reasoned that the branches were pruned to improve visibility and growth of the trees.
Udhyaan Nirikshak [horticulture inspector] Tarani Singh, too, opined that permission wasn't needed for this process.
However, Mehra, who had alerted the department, strongly condemned the act. He said, "What they have done should come under the category of felling, as they have brought down whole branches.”
Mehra also said that it's not the first time that the GDA has been booked for violating forest norms. "Not a single case has moved in the court. But still, our vigilance and the department’s prompt response will discourage them to take environment lightly.”