In the past three years, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has racked up fines totaling more than Rs 18 lakh for illegal tree felling in private or corporation-controlled areas. Big, shady trees that were planted next to the road and were discovered to have been cut from the roots or the branch tip, which causes the tree development to be inactive and dead, have been subject to fines.
As per the Saurashtra Felling of Trees (Infliction of Punishment) Act, 1951, the illegal cutting of trees is penalized. For felling one single tree, the penalty imposed is plantation of ten new trees along with a maintenance guarantee of three years. The estimated cost to grow one tree of eight to ten feet for a period of three years is Rs 2500 which includes sand, manure, medicines etc.
In case, the penalized person doesn’t agree to plant a new tree and carry its maintenance, he or she is required to pay a cheque of Rs 25,000 in the name of Municipal Commissioner of the civic body.
According to sources, it is difficult to force people to maintain a tree for three years or to pay a fine of Rs 25,000. Sometimes, the first and second notices are ineffective, and people only recognise their error after receiving a third notice of a severe punishment, at which point they choose one of the penalty alternatives.