Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994 was enacted in order to save the trees planted in the National Capital of India from getting depleted due to human activities. The act aimed at keeping a check on the cutting of trees by the owners of the trees on their land. The act gave birth to Tree Authority in the National Capital Region(NCR) of India for the preservation of trees.
Let’s look into any of the duties of Tree Authority which the act defines:
Protection of trees under its Jurisdiction.
Undertaking a critical study of the proposals of different departments and private bodies for construction of buildings, roads, factories, irrigation work, laying out of electric, telephonic, telegraph, and other transmission lines with regard to the protection of existing trees and planting of more trees, whenever possible.
Also sending out the census of existing trees and also winning a declaration from all owners of occupants about the number of trees on their land.
Restrictions imposed by the Act
The law made a conscious restriction on the owners of the trees. It is working as a check on the number of trees you are having and then securing you liable for the tree you cut. One can own land but can’t own the environment.
Keeping this in mind the act restrains a person from cutting a tree or its branch. The act says that no person shall fell, discharge or dispose of any tree or any forest produce in any land. A restriction is on the trees under your control or occupancy or otherwise. If you want to fell, remove or dispose of a tree then you have obtained previous permission from the Tree Officer. Without proper permission, one can’t do the act.
What if there is grave danger and the authorities cannot be informed immediately?
When if the tree is not promptly felled, then there would be a grave danger to life or property or traffic then in these kinds of situations the owner can take immediate action to fell the tree. The fact should be reported to the Tree Officer within 24 hours of such feeling.
If a person wants to cut, dispose or fell a tree then the person has to make an application to the concerned Tree officer for approval. Such application has to be completed by attested copies of such documents as prescribed in support of:
Ownership over the land.
The number and kind of trees to be cut.
Their girth measure.
The reason for cutting the tree.
After review, the Tree Officer may either grant permission in whole or in part or for the reasons recorded in writing.
When an application cannot be turned down?
There are definite situations where the permission for the act can’t be denied by the officer. The situations which the Act specifies are:
When the tree is dead, diseased or wind-fallen,
Is silviculturally mature, provided that the tree does not occur on a steep slope,
Constitutes danger to life or property,
Constitutes obstruction to traffic,
The tree is substantially damaged or destroyed by fire, lightning, rain or other natural causes.
Unlike other application and events in India, Tree Officer has to make his decision within 60 days of the receipt of the application. Disappointing to comply with the time period, the permission is allowed to be granted.
How many times permission can be obtained?
Permission is limited to one hectare at a time. So the officer can grant authority only 2 times a year to any person in one area. This checks too many persons obtaining a person to cut down the tree on the same land having rendering unreasonable reasons.
An obligation to plant Tree:
The entire idea behind preserving the tree will fail if people without being required any penalty gets permission to cut, fell or dispose of a tree because every person will come with some of the other ultimate reason to cut the tree down.
The Preservation of Trees act has mandated that any person getting the important permission to dispose or cut or feel the tree, is bound to plant such number and kind of trees in the area from which the tree is felled or disposed of. The person should start the preparatory work in thirty days after taking the approval from the Tree officer. If the person fails to do so then the Tree officer has to make the tree planted and the officer can obtain the requisite cost from the person.
Penalties and Procedure:
More than an officer’s duty, it’s our responsibility towards nature to check whether someone is following the guidelines or not. If you really care about sustainable development then do report. Reporting will attract the following fines:
Seizure of Property: If the Tree officer believe that the offense has been performed under this act with respect of trees, then the officer may seize (i) tools, (ii) implements, (iii) any boats, (iv) vehicles, (v) animals or (vi) other conveyances used for the commission.
Power to arrest without warrant: Any tree officer or a forest officer not under the rank the rank of a Forest Ranger or a Police Officer.
Penalty: A person can be punished with one-year imprisonment or a fine exceeding to ₹1000 or both.
Your duty…Not specified but expected.
It is the duty of an individual to render information regarding the commission of forest offense which incorporates cutting of trees and killing of wild animals and also information regarding fires in Government forests. Control who has been set up at the Divisional Head Quarter of every Tree Officer, where any objection regarding Forest & Wildlife offense at Phone No 23923561/26094711/23361879/23378514.
A Tree HelpLine has been set up to attend any charges regarding felling or damaging the trees including lopping at Phone No. 23378513.
It is true that the person owns the land which makes him the ultimate owner of the property on the land. A tree is the part of the same land, then why a person is not reasonably permitted to cut the tree? Owing to land and owing the nature are 2 different things. You may own the tangible asset on the land but you cannot control its depreciation. One can’t own the oxygen he takes in and the oxygen comes from the trees.