The Order was passed based on the complaint of one Akhil Gupta, wherein he said the tree was dangerously leaning over the property.
Calangute MLA Michael Lobo says the tree was felled deliberately as mud around it was excavated.
SURAJ NANDREKAR/ Goemkarponn
MAPUSA: On the very day when Goa celebrated World Environment Day, and the State Chief Minister, Dr Pramod Sawant, and Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral preached to Goans to protect the environment, here in Mapusa the Dy Collector Gurudas S.T.Desai signed an order to kill a 200-yr old banyan tree. Shocking?
The Order was passed based on a mere complaint of a non-Goan businessman (builder) having a construction site in adjoining survey no, claimed the tree was dangerously leaning towards their property.
Goemkarponn investigations revealed the Deputy collector made no efforts to enquire why the centuries-old tree was leaning suddenly. He depended on the Fire department, which pruned the branches and only said the tree was dangerously leaning.
Interestingly the complaint and Order were passed on the same day, i.e 05/06/2023.
“This Order shall dispose of the complaint initiated under the provisions of Section 12-A of Goa Preservation of Trees (Amendment) Act, 2008, based on the complaint filed by the above-named Complainant dated 05/06/2023.
The Complainant, in his complaint dated 05/06/2023, informed that One Banyan tree is dangerously leaning over and partly fallen in the property bearing Sy. Nos 214/7-A and 214/7-B of the village of Calangute, Bardez-Goa.
Further, the DC order said the Banyan tree existed in the property bearing Sy.No. 214/6-A has partly fallen into complainant property bearing Sy. No 214/7-A and the adjoining property bearing Sy. No 214/7-B, and there is a serious apprehension that the same may further fall, resulting in loss of life or limb unless ordered to be cut at the earliest.
“The Officials of the Fire and Emergency Department had visited the spot soon after the tree had fallen and cut the branches of the tree. However, the major portion of the tree is still leaning dangerously. The Complainant has enclosed photographs of the tree,” the DC order says.
In view of the above, the respondent (one Shashank Jain – also a non-Goan) is directed to cut the said tree bearing Sy. No 214/6-A within 48 hours, failing which the Complainant shall cut the tree. The sale proceeds of the trees may be adjusted against the expenses incurred towards the cutting of the tree.
Locals and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo have alleged the tree was deliberately felled as the mud around it was excavated with the help of JCB.
“Today went to the site where the 200-yr old banyan tree was cut. This is a deliberate act by the builder; we can see that the mud was excavated around the banyan tree. There are video recordings to that effect,” he said.
He said the authorities needed to look into how the tree actually fell.
“I will take up the issue with the concerned authorities and see that the licence is cancelled. We have come to understand there are many illegalities at the site. The builder has yet to leave a proper setback,” he said.
Lobo said he will make all efforts to see that the age-old banyan tree is brought to life again.
“I will do whatever I can, and my support is with panchayat and others in this regard. We will bring police protection and get work done,” he said.