Moreover, when the residents tried stopping them, they were met with aggressive and rude behaviour. It was only after the police were called in by the residents that the people stopped their work. However, by then, three trees and many branches had already been cut.
Residents said the trees behind the society, on the Chatushrungi hillside, were illegally chopped by workers at the behest of a central government institute.
Ashish Malwankar, the chairman of the society, said the matter started on Friday when two-three people showed up on the hillside, behind the society, and started cutting trees. Talking about the people cutting the trees and their behaviour, Malwankar said: “They had already cut two trees when we saw them and asked them to stop. After some argument, they left. Today (Saturday), around 10-15 men turned up and started cutting the trees. They had already cut one tree, and had cut many branches. They were about to start on another tree when the police arrived. Society members tried reasoning with them and asked them to show the papers that showed permission to cut the trees, but they were abrasive. Not only did they violate the PMC‘s rule to seek permission before cutting any tree, they also trespassed on the society’s property. We will be lodging a police complaint.”
Pradeep Deshmukh, a resident, said, “This entire patch of land was barren when we came here in 2005. The residents planted the trees and nurtured them. They have no permission from the Pune Municipal Corporation to cut, or even trim, the trees because they would first need the society’s consent to apply for the permission. What is worse is that the group of people who had come to cut the trees acted like goondas and used abusive language towards senior citizens and women who tried to stop them. They said they would cut the trees no matter what, and challenged us to complain to higher authorities. We will be formally complaining to the garden department on Monday.”
The workers allegedly told the residents that the trees were being cut as a pre-monsoon exercise to ensure the trees don’t fall on insulated power cables lying on the ground. However, the residents rejected these claims. “Even to trim the branches, one requires permission from the PMC and also the society on whose land the trees stand,” added Malwankar.
Ashok Ghorpade, PMC’s chief garden superintendent, said before chopping down the branches or trees on any property within the PMC limits, permission is required. “If it is to cut down a tree, the property owner should apply or there should be consent from the property owner. Then the party should stick notices stating that the tree will be cut at least eight days in advance. For trimming branches, prior notice is not required, but permission is required. Even in this case, either the property owner should apply or the party that wants to cut must apply with a consent letter from the society. The society must complain to the department and we will take action, ” said Ghorpade.