India: Horticulturalist Mandatory for New Building Projects

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The BMC (Bombay Municipal Corporation) has made it mandatory for every developer to have a horticulturist on its panel so that plans are scrutinized to avoid unnecessary tree felling and thus help maintain the city’s green cover. The civic body’s guidelines also state that the horticulturists should ensure that trees that are transplanted survive.

The BMC will form a committee with officials from the building proposals and garden departments to scrutinize every development proposal that comes to them.

Currently, a proposal for development is first sent to the building proposals department which scrutinizes it for technical aspects. After over 30 permissions required for construction, the proposal is sent to the tree authority department for no-objection certificate. “After acquiring several permissions, the architects are reluctant to incorporate any changes in the designs if suggested by the garden department officials. Hence, they resort to pressure tactics to get the NOC. We want to reduce that and hence the committee has been appointed so that in case changes need to be made to save a few trees from being cut, they can be done right at the start of the procedure,” said a civic official.

Meanwhile, the guidelines also say that the BMC will mostly stress on transplanting the trees. It will sanction cutting of trees only in exceptional cases. The trees can be transplanted in the BMC gardens or open spaces provided by the civic body if the developer has no space on his own plot. “The BMC will appoint contractors to take care of the transplanted trees and the money spent on nurturing them will be taken from the developers,” said another civic official.

Architects and developers claim that parking plans, basements and laying an approach route for fire tenders often “necessitate” that trees be cut.

Tree authority member Devendra Amberkar said, “We receive tree felling proposals from the administration department and only approve them after due diligence. We have noticed that the rule for replantation was not being observed. As a result, we have lost countless trees to construction. The balance of nature is being eroded. Citizens blame corporators if trees are hacked unnecessarily, so we are cautious about each permission we grant.”

Source: Times of India

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