Every state has different laws relating to felling of trees. In Maharashtra, it is governed by The Maharashtra Felling of Trees (Regulation) Act, 1964. This act is applicable on whole of Maharashtra except urban areas where felling of trees is regulated by the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Preservation of Trees Act, 1975.
What is felling of trees?
Felling of trees means removing the trees or causing substantial damage or destruction to the trees. Felling is usually done by burning, cutting or lopping a tree.
Why do you require Permission?
It is illegal to fell any tree or cause such tree to be felled in any land except with the written permission of the Tree Officer. It is irrelevant whether it is of one’s ownership or otherwise.
How to obtain permission?
If someone wants to fell a tree, he must apply in writing to the tree officer, who happens to be the Range Forest Officer in non-urban areas. In Urban areas, tree officer is appointed by the ‘Tree Authority’ which is headed by Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation. In Municipal Councils, president of the council is the chairman of tree authority. Profarma of the Application is available on the website of the department. Online application can also be made on the website of the government <https://aaplesarkar.mahaonline.gov.in/> or at the website of Maharashtra Forest Portal <http://184.108.40.206/forestportal/>.
What Documents are Required?
Such application should be accompanied by the description of the tree and a site plan, indicating the position of the tree required to be felled. It should also mention reasons of felling the tree. Following documents are required alongwith application-
- A copy of 7/12 from Talathi indicating details of Trees.
- If the owner is more than one as per 7/12, then consent letter of each owner with Photographs from Setu.
- Village form No. 8-A from Talathi.
- A copy of Record of Rights, Mutation Register from Tahasildar.
- Map of related Survey No. (Settlement/Remeasurement/consolidation map) and in case the survey number is adjoining to Govt land, certified land from Tahsildar.
- Boundary certificate indicating names of adjoining land owners and the Survey Nos. from Talathi.
- Certificate from Tahsildar/Naib Tahsildar regarding ownership of land and trees in case of Class I Land owner (Bhogwatdar-l) and from SDO/Tahsildar in case of Class-II Land owner (Bhogwatdar-II).
- Caste Certificate from Tahsildar/ naib Tahsildar, if the applicant belongs to scheduled tribe, the certificate is to be from SDO, Revenue.
- Details of trees as per Survey No.
- Permission from Collector in case of trees within 30 meters of the extreme edge of the bank or any water course, spring or tank.
- Permission from Collector in case if the tree growth in the uncultivable land is less in proposition to 20 trees per acre.
- Undertaking to plant trees as specified by tree officer.
Process of Granting Permission
In Urban Areas, on receipt of such application, the Tree Authority directs the Tree Officer to personally inspect the tree and hold enquiry and submit a report to the Tree Authority within 30 days from the date of receipt of such application. Adequate public notice shall be given by the Tree Officer by advertising in local newspapers and by affixing a notice on a conspicous part of the tree that is required to be fell. Thereafter, the Tree Authority may give permission `with or without conditions or refuse it, within a period of 60 days from the date of receipt of the application. However, no tree shall be fell until fifteen days after such permission is given.
In non-urban areas, acknowledgement is sent to applicant within seven days of application. After proper enquiry, verification of details and inspection of documents, permission is granted. This process takes 60 days.
When Permission Can’t be Refused?
- If the tree is dead, diseased or wind-fallen.
- If the tree constitutes a danger to life or property.
- If the tree obstructs traffic.
- If it has silviculturally matured.
- If it is substantially damaged or destroyed by fire, lightning, rain, or other natural causes.
- If it constitutes an obstruction to efficient cultivation:
If the Tree Officer fails to accord/reject the tree felling permission within 60 days from the date of acknowledgement, then it is presumed that deemed felling permission is given to the applicant. If the tree officer fails to even acknowledge the application, permission will be deemed to have been granted.
Requirement of Planting Trees
Permission to cut the tree will be granted subject to the condition that the applicant will plant an equal number of trees. These can be of the same or any other species. Tree Officer can direct the applicant to plant trees on the same site or other suitable place in the vicinity.
What if you cut the tree without taking permission?
Any person who fells any tree or causes it to be felled, shall be liable for penalty upto Rs. 1,000/- (Rupees One Thousand Only). In case of urban areas, the person concerned shall also be punished with imprisonment of upto three (3) months if the offence is in relation to a tree in any public premises. In case of non-urban areas, the tree officer may also order that any such tree shall be forfeited to the government, along with vehicles, boats, tools and other material used in felling of such trees.
Where to appeal if the permit isn’t granted?
If the Tree Officer rejects the application for felling the trees, the applicant can file an appeal within a period of 15 days to the Collector of the area.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.