The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Tuesday invited the ire of the Bombay High Court and also received a lesson on the ecosystem from the court over a plea alleging unauthorised tree cutting.
A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice NM Jamdar asked the BMC what would the children of the future learn if the ecosystem was damaged.
"What will you teach children? Trees, birds, squirrels, snails, bees...all have an important role to play in the ecosystem. We learnt in books about pollination, and how bees collect nectar and make honey, and the importance of nature....," the bench said.
The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by a city resident alleging that in the name of routine pruning ahead of the monsoons, the BMC was chopping and hacking trees in the Kalanagar area of the city.
The petitioner Stephanie Richards told the court that in November last year, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) had sought the BMC's permission to prune some trees within its office premises in Kalanagar.
The BMC granted permission and employed contractors for the task.
However, the petitioner submitted some photos before the court showing that the contractors were indiscriminately chopping off branches, and almost reducing most trees to stumps.
The BMC's garden department officer, who was present in court, however, told the court that such action amounted to pruning and not cutting or felling of trees.
The court, however, said that "common sense" suggested that pruning would mean merely "ensuring that all branches were in proper shape and the trees were not dangerous".
It, therefore, directed the superintendent of the BMC's garden department to look into the allegations.
The court directed the superintendent to visit the MHADA office, and take action if any violations were found.