Monday 19 November 2018

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Society | Environment

Despite opposition, Guv clears controversial ‘coconut bill’

 

While the opposition is getting united to attack the Bharatiya Janata Party government over the issue of coconut tree, Governor Mridula Sinha has given assent to the controversial bill.

Official sources at Raj Bhavan confirmed to goanews.com that the ‘coconut bill’ has been assented to and sent back to the government yesterday.

Today’s Lokmat also carries a headline with Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar confirming in this regard.

The Preservation of Trees Amendment Bill is being assented to on the eve of the budget Assembly session beginning on Monday.

The bill was passed in the winter Assembly session, on 14 January, but was sent to the Raj Bhavan almost after 50 days, on 4 March.

Meanwhile, the bill has become a rallying point for all the opposition parties as well as some NGOs to come together, opposing the amendments.

The amendment bill primarily restricts coconut tree only in case of ruinous trees or the trees which may fall, for which a legal procedure has been laid down to seek government permission.

However, the restriction over cutting coconut trees, which are in good condition, has been removed with this bill, thereby allowing anybody to cut any amount of ‘good’ coconut trees.

The opposition thus alleges that the bill is amended in order to give a free hand to the industries and real estate lobby to mercilessly cut the coconut trees.

 

The BJP government however claims that the bill is being brought to free the coconut grower from the lengthy procedures they had to go with the forest department while replacing low-yielding coconut trees.

Some coconut growers had demanded a legislation to protect coconut trees while welcoming the amendment since coconut is not a forest tree to be included in the Preservation of Trees Act.

Several delegations had thus met Governor Sinha, even before the bill reached her, with a request not give assent to the bill but revert it back to the Assembly to make provisions to protect coconut trees, which are in good condition.

However, the governor has preferred to give assent to the bill.

Though Forest Minister Rajendra Arlekar had publicly assured to bring a comprehensive legislation to bring Coconut Protection Act, the BJP government has not made any move in this regard in last two months.

The opposition has thus made it a public issue, alleging that the amendment is not brought to protect coconut trees but to allow its merciless cutting without any government control.

With forthcoming Assembly election less than one year ahead, it appears that coconut would be one of the major election issue if the BJP government fails to bring a comprehensive legislation to protect coconut trees. 






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