Tree census deadline ‘anniversary’ today

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on Friday overshot exactly by a year, the Bombay High Court (HC) deadline for tree census in the city.

The HC, hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in 2009 by Pune-based activist Deepak Vahikar, had set November 30, 2011 as the the deadline.

Several affidavits in court followed over the year post the deadline, but the tree-counting exercise has been dragging on. The PMC had in August this year decided to incorporate GIS tagging of trees as part of the census. Vahikar says changing of agencies given the task of conducting the census is causing the delay. The tree census was started by PMC in August 2008, and the first agency given the task had counted about 21.26 lakh trees until 2011.

On August 30, 2011, HC bench of justice D Y Chandrachud and justice A A Sayyed stated, "Counsel appearing on behalf of the municipal corporation has made a statement in court that the census of trees in the city of Pune is likely to be completed within three months. We direct the municipal corporation, particularly the municipal commissioner, to ensure the census is completed expeditiously and in any event by November 30, 2011."

Vahikar said, "In the last one year, we have given affidavits in court saying the census has not been completed, with PMC switching between agencies. This amounts of contempt. The court has fixed next hearing in January."

PMC garden department chief Naresh Zurmure said, "In August this year, PMC decided to incorporate GIS tagging of trees. The name, age, size and photograph of trees are included in this system and the same has been notified to the PMC."

The HC had earlier observed that the work was "tardy", and had directed PMC to carry out the census 'with a sense of urgency'. The court had set guidelines on the way the census had to be carried out. "The census shall be carried out properly after due enumeration and numbering of trees. The municipal commissioner is directed to ensure the work of census of trees is properly carried out," the court had said.

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