Over 1,200 trees have been cut by the Bangalore Metro Rail Transport Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) for the Phase 2 construction and all without public consultation or obtaining permission from the Expert Committee to monitor tree felling.
According to figures obtained from BMRCL, 1,253 trees have been cut for Phase 2. This excludes the KR Puram and Airport routes. The RV Road to Bommasandra route spans across 72 km.
Till the end of July, construction work has begun along a 68-km stretch for the Yellow Line and the trees located along this stretch have been cut, BMRCL sources said.
Data shows that 599 trees have been cut between RV Road and Bommasandra and an additional 269 trees in HSR Layout. The remaining 385 trees have been cut for the Gottigere-Nagawara line or the Red Line. In addition, the BMRCL has identified 1,312 trees along the Gottigere-Nagawara line, which it intends to chop. However, BMRCL sources said that the agency has ensured that 2,530 saplings were planted on the outskirts of the city to compensate for the loss of the trees.
Speaking to TNM, environmentalist Vijay Nishanth said that the BMRCL had defied High Court orders and not consulted the Expert Committee monitoring the cutting of trees. “BMRCL got permission to cut 45 trees in one phase from the BBMP tree committee. If less than 50 trees are being cut, then there is no need for public consultation, as per the previous norms. BMRCL cut down a small number of trees in different phases and now the number is over 1,200. This is not right,” Vijay said.
In April this year, Devare, an environmental activist had filed a PIL in the Karnataka High Court demanding action against the BBMP rule to not hold public consultation if the number of trees being felled is less than 50. The High Court had, in July this year, issued guidelines for BBMP to set up an expert committee to monitor the trees being cut for developmental projects.
“The respondents are directed to constitute a committee consisting of experts from the field of Environment, Science, Technology and fields concerned. The Expert Committee shall examine whether trees proposed to be felled could be saved by adopting any method. After exhausting all methods, if it is found that it is impossible to save any tree, only then it shall be permissible to cut the trees,” the High Court had said.
Vijay Nishanth says that the BMRCL defied the court’s orders and still resorted to cutting trees, even though most of them could have been saved by translocation. According to BBMP officials, BMRCL had obtained permission to cut 170 trees so far.
“If BBMP is saying that the permission was given to chop lesser number of trees, how did BMRCL do this? Planting saplings elsewhere is not the solution. These trees could have been saved and transplanted just a few metres away along the same stretch,” Vijay Nishanth added.