Is coconut a tree or not, plea in Goa HC

Panaji, May 2 (IANS) A month after the Goa government de-recognised the coconut palm as a tree, the battle over the official nomenclature of the tropical tree, often synonymous with Goa’s picturesque landscapes, will now be fought in court.

The Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court on Monday issued notice to the state chief secretary seeking response over a petition challenging the decision of the Goa government in March to de-recognise the coconut palm as a tree under the Goa, Daman and Diu Preservation of Trees Act, 1984.

The petition has been filed by heritage activist Prajal Sakhardande, chairperson of the Goa For Giving Trust, Armando Gonsalves, and Mumbai-based trust Vanashakti.

“The government through the chief secretary has been asked to file a response by June 13, when the next hearing has been scheduled,” Sakhardande told reporters on Monday.

The controversial amendment to the Trees Act, which de-recognised coconut palm as a tree, was passed by the assembly in January. It was formally accorded assent by Governor Mridula Sinha in March.

The opposition parties and environmentalists have slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government for passing the bill which, they say, will facilitate “mass massacre of coconut trees in the state”.

Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar has said the law was amended to allow coconut farmers to cull old and non-productive trees without being caught in red-tape.

The Congress has said that if voted to power in the 2017 assembly elections, it would accord the status of ‘state tree’ to the coconut palm.

–IANS

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