The Forest Department will be conducting an inquiry into the alleged illegal felling of a tree on S.V. Patel Salai on Thursday.
On Thursday morning, a group of people equipped with a backhoe loader and lorry assembled near a popular café to clear the remains of a tree that had been felled. When asked what they were doing, they first claimed to be from the municipality and that the tree had fallen during Cyclone Thane.
They used the backhoe loader to break the tree trunk, before loading it on to the lorry.
On further inquiry, it was learnt that they had not received approval from the Forest Department for removing the tree.
Conservator of Forests A. Anil Kumar told The Hindu that although the tree was not healthy, it was still illegal to remove any tree from government property. There was no reason for the tree to have fallen naturally as the town had witnessed perfectly normal weather conditions.
The tree appeared to have been split, but that could be the result of it being hit with the backhoe loader.
Under heavy pressure, a tree splits and falls. Often people do not want to pay extra money for someone to cut the tree, and hence resort to this method.
The cutting down of any tree on government land constitutes theft of government property.
After the Forest Department inquiry, if it was found that the tree had indeed been felled, then they could proceed to take criminal action against the offenders.
There was currently one such case pending before the Judicial Magistrate. Penalty for this offence entails up to three years of imprisonment and a fine, Mr. Kumar said.
Officials would be inspecting the site on Friday morning, he said.