Trimming of trees by the Municipal Corporation
Ours is a society located in the western suburbs of Mumbai. Our society has quite a few trees all around its boundary walls. Over the years, these trees have outgrown themselves. There is a distinct possibility that the trees / their branches might get uprooted / dislodged during heavy rains / gushes of strong wind / or even without any outside interference. They may either fall on the cars of the residents, which are parked underneath, or hit the structure of the building itself, or fall on some individual or even topple down to the adjoining society, causing severe damage to life and property within / outside the society premises and dragging it into avoidable legal proceedings and causing immense financial liabilities.
Anticipating the above, the society had made an application to the garden department of Bombay Municipal Corporation to prune the trees to avoid any such eventuality. The concerned department officials visited our premises and we were verbally given to understand the following:
• Trees cannot be cut.
• Their branches can only be trimmed, and that too only those branches which are at a height of 20 feet or less from the ground level.
• The Society will have to bear the necessary expenses.
We, the residents, feel on the following lines:
1. The residents have every right to protect their once-in-lifetime property and laws must assist them in their endeavour and not cause impediments. When common-sense dictates that trees need to be cut down up to a certain level so that they are able to sustain their poise and do not crumble under their own weight, the law just cannot dictate otherwise or force us to wait till tree(s) have fallen down and the damage has actually taken place. It may be emphasised that we are not talking of uprooting the trees but merely cutting them from the top up to a certain level (say, 30 feet) from the ground. Further, we do not want only the branches to be cut off but the stems too need chopping down.
2. As an extension to this argument, it is felt that if any law prohibits taking any such logical action, then either the rule must be repealed or, otherwise, must allow adequate compensation to those who become aggrieved by its application. in other words, if the municipal corporation is not willing to prune the trees (and not only the branches) from the top up to a proposed height or takes refuge in being tied down by some archaic law and if the tree actually gets uprooted and damages the movable / immovable properties or any life, either within the society premises or in the vicinity, the municipal corporation must accept all responsibilities & liabilities and adequate compensation, legal or otherwise, for the damages caused must be doled out by the corporation.
3. There are two trees in the premises which are already dead. What stops the corporation from dislodging them? Further, a mango tree is growing pretty fast which is very close to the building. In days to come, when it is fully grown, its roots will damage the structure, for sure. The tree ought to be cut down before it is too late, as otherwise, the laws of the corporation would come into play prohibiting its uprooting, jeopardising the existence of the society premises.
My queries are simple:
• Whether our thought process is correct.
• Whether we can take on the Municipal Corporation based on our understanding of the situation.
Asked in Property Law from Mumbai, Maharashtra
1) wait for written rely from the tree authority
2) if no reply is received file RTI application as what action had been taken on your application for cutting down the trees
3) yiu can sue muncipal corporation for damages in case tress fall down and damage society property
4) yiu are at Liberty to file writ petition on HCid permission for pruning trees has been rejected
Your thought process is partly correct. You cannot amend the law. It can be amended only by the competent legislature. The amendment exercise is a long drawn process, which cannot be wound up within a day. The remedy for the aggrieved residents at this stage is to file a suit for injunction against the municipality in the civil court to seek binding directions to it to cut down the trees lest they damage the property.
BMC has agreed to prune the branches of trees up to a height of 20 feet from the ground level on making a hefty payment by the Society. But this does not serve our purpose. We wanted two dead trees to be uprooted. Further, a Mango tree, growing close to the Building, also be to uprooted at this stage itself (before it is fully grown up). The BMC has not responded to these 2 issues. As regards two big trees, our fear is that they may fall down and damage our / neighbouring property / lives. Cutting branches up to 20 feet does not help us. These trees (and not only the branches) would be required to be cut from the top so that they stand, say, 30 feet tall from the ground level and the chances of falling down are minimised.
Kindly advise whether BMC can turn down our request for (a) uprooting the 2 dead trees and the fast-growing mango tree; and (b) cutting the 2 big trees (and not only the branches) to a certain level.
Asked 7 months ago
1) if trees are dead BMC cannot object to uprooting dead trees .
2)mango tree would not be allowed to be uprooted at this stage
3) your request for cutting the 2 big trees would not be granted