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Tough green law on Buddha desk

Calcutta, July 28: With a cry of “greener and cleaner Bengal”, the government has drawn up a stricter law against felling of trees.

Alarmed at the rampant assault on greenery by promoters, different development agencies and individuals in the city and elsewhere in Bengal, the environment department, in collaboration with the municipal affairs and urban development department, has finalised the new rules and sent them to the chief minister for formal approval.

Officials at Writers’ Buildings said Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had expressed displeasure over increasing felling of trees in the name of development and directed the environment department to frame stricter rules so that the public would be dissuaded and offenders could be punished.

“Our focus is mainly on Calcutta and the satellites. We have been urging the people and different agencies to plant more trees... But our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. So we have no option but to compel builders and developers to go for green. We have framed a stricter law and are awaiting the government’s approval. We expect to impose the rules within a month,” said environment secretary Asim Burman.

Some of the salient features of the new rules are:

• It will be mandatory for developers, promoters and builders constructing apartment blocks to plant trees

• The area of plantation will be at least double the area taken up for construction

• Trees will have to be planted in areas specified by the urban development department. It could be beside the construction site or somewhere else

• The species of saplings will be specified, preferably dust and heat absorbing and growing fast with thick foliage

• If the builders cannot undertake plantation, they will have to deposit money with the forest department for it

• Completion certificates for buildings will be given after plantation (to be certified by PCB or the forest department)

• The new trees will have to be marked by the planters with serial numbers

• A competent authority will oversee the re-plantation

• Promoters already building highrises and commercial complexes will also be brought under the purview of the new rules.

For any institution, the rules say, plantation on its vacant land is mandatory. The government will also provide incentives to the institutions for this purpose.

For agencies involved in land development, at least 10 trees will have to be planted against the felling of one big tree, five against one medium tree and three against one small tree. Now, three trees have to be planted if one is cut down.

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