New law for Goa coconut trees, if felled excessively: CM

Panaji, Jan 23 (IANS) All is not lost for Goa’s coconut trees yet.

A week after the Goa government received flak for officially de-recognising the coconut palm as a tree, which critics say will make its felling easier for commercial interests, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Saturday said that his government was prepared for such an eventuality.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a coconut festival in Panaji, Parsekar said that his BJP-led coalition government was not averse to bringing in a special legislation to protect the tree in case of excessive felling.
“The government will ensure special protection to coconut tree by making a ‘no objection certificate’ from the Agriculture Department mandatory for cutting a coconut tree, treating coconut as an agricultural produce,” Parsekar said.
During the recently concluded winter session of the Goa legislative assembly, the government had passed a controversial amendment to the Goa, Daman and Diu Protection of Trees Act, 1984, to formally de-recognise the coconut palm as a tree.
The move had triggered a lot of criticism, from the opposition, coalition partners as well as from the civil society both in India and abroad.
Parsekar and state forest minister Rajendra Arlekar defended the amendment, saying the newly tweaked law would help coconut farmers cull ageing and non-productive palms without having to deal with bureaucratic red tape.