In news- The Maharashtra government is set to make amendments to the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act of 1975, to introduce provisions for the protection of ‘heritage trees’.
- Under the proposed amendment, 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.
- Experts believe that in addition to the age, the Maharashtra state climate change department will be implementing the Tree Act.
- Maharashtra Tree Authority in local civic bodies and councils will be formed which will take all decisions regarding the protection of trees.
- The local Tree Authority will have to ensure tree census to be carried out every five years along with counting of heritage trees.
- A proposal to cut more than 200 trees of age 5 years or more, will be referred to the state tree authority.
- The tree’s age will determine the number of trees to be planted as part of the compensatory plantation- as per the amendment, the number of trees planted will be equal to the age of the heritage tree that is cut.
- The organization planting the compensation trees will also have to ensure the survival of the plantation for seven years and geo-tag the trees.
- Such plantations can be carried out either in the same plot or a common amenity plot.
- In case compensatory plantation is not possible, the tree feller has to pay compensation for the economic valuation of the trees being felled (the amount of oxygen that a tree releases into the environment should determine its economic value).
- The fine for illegal felling of trees from a maximum of Rs 5,000 to Rs 1 lakh per tree.