Bombay HC slams non functioning of tree authorities in Goa


Panaji, July 21 : The Bombay High Court bench in Goa, on Wednesday, said that it was "extremely distressed" by the non-functioning of tree authorities -- designated district level authorities empowered to protect trees -- since 2012, stating that "scant regard" by designated authorities towards preservation of trees amounted to "dereliction of statutory duties". In an order Justices M.S. Jawalkar and M.S. Sonak, also directed the Goa government to ensure that the tree authorities meet at least once every three months, incorporate experts in the decision-making, carry out a census of existing trees across the state -- barring forest and government land -- using modern technology such as RFID and geo-tagging within a period of one year. The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by the Mumbai-based Living Heritage Foundation, which had said that the district tree authorities constituted under the Goa, Daman and Diu Preservation of Trees Act, 1984 (Trees Act) were virtually defunct and had sought a court-monitored committee to oversee their functioning. The tree authority comprises of a Secretary level official, District Collector, two MLAs, two representatives of local bodies nominated by the government, with the state Conservator of Forests as a member secretary. "On perusing the petition, the two affidavits-in-reply, and the other material on record, we must say that we are extremely distressed to discover that the Tree Authorities constituted under the Trees Act, have not functioned at all since at least the year 2012, which is the year in which these two Tree Authorities came to be constituted," the Court said in its order. "This is not just some instance of dereliction of statutory duties but this is an instance that points to the scant regard which such authorities and their members have to the cause of the preservation of trees in the State of Goa," the Court said. /IANS


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