Now, Maharashtra to give 50-year-old urban trees ‘heritage’ tag

The state cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday approved a proposal to amend the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, and incorporate the concept of ‘heritage trees’.

By   |  Published: 11th Jun 2021  1:45 pm

Mumbai: In a novel green initiative to conserve nature, the Maharashtra government has decided to accord ‘heritage’ tags to all trees which are 50-years old and more in urban centres, officials said here on Friday.

The state cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday approved a proposal to amend the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, and incorporate the concept of ‘heritage trees’.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has also decided to form a ‘Maharashtra Tree Authority’ which will be empowered to take all decisions regarding protection of trees.

“In order to maintain and foster the green cover in the state’s urban centres, we have passed the amendment that will safeguard the environment in all cities and provide a robust mechanism to protect heritage trees,” said Tourism and Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray.

He expressed gratitude to the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat for consistently giving weightage to sustainable development by amending existing laws to address the worldwide climate emergency or global warming.

“Any tree with an estimated age of 50 years or above, shall be classified as a ‘heritage tree’. They may belong to specific species, which would be notified periodically,” an official said.

The move comes barely 18 months after Mumbai witnessed a staggering 2,141 big and small trees being chopped off in less than 40 hours – or roughly one tree/per minute – by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (MMRCL) inside the Aarey Colony, in October 2019.

The Thackeray father-son duo, both nature lovers, was instrumental in drafting the proposed changes in the law to ensure safety of all old trees in urban landscapes.

The Environment and Climate Change Department along with the Forest Department will shortly prepare formal guidelines to determine the age of a tree.