A group of activists have submitted a petition to Bengaluru’s civic body the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) over several trees set to be uprooted to make way for infrastructure projects.
The petition reminds the BBMP about the interim orders passed in April 2019 by the Karnataka High Court related to the formation of a Tree Committee which can decide on the cutting trees. The same order in April had said that the committee should explore every other alternative before felling even a single tree.
In their petition, the ‘Heritage Beku’ collective said, “When the High Court of Karnataka has specifically mandated that no action should be taken without submission of the procedure and completion of tree census, how is it that the Tree Committee has gone ahead with the inspection? We request you to intimate us about the status of inspections and fieldwork by the Tree Committee in respect of these trees...As per the judgment of the High Court of Karnataka on this aspect, a tree should be cut down only after all other alternatives have been examined and exhausted, with no other options to save the tree.”
The petition has been submitted separately with the BBMP Commissioner BH Anil Kumar and BBMP Deputy Conservator of Forest Ranganath Swami.
Incidentally, the BBMP has started the tender process for widening Ballari Road and Jayamahal Road which will require uprooting of more than 450 trees.
While the committee is yet to come to a conclusion, the BBMP has already gone ahead with the tender process for road widening. Moreover, it has been reliably learnt that the legally mandated public consultation process is also yet to take place.
The petition further said, “We as responsible citizens of Bengaluru, do not want even a single tree to be cut. Other options should be considered. Whilst we are all for the metro and other public utility projects, these projects should be planned in such a way that the greenery of the city is not compromised in any manner.”
The activists also asked the BBMP to proactively work and ensure that the Tree Committee has at least three representatives from the civil society and concerned citizenry of Bengaluru.
Speaking to TNM, Priya Chetty Rajagopal founder of the collective said, “We do not want to go in combat with the BBMP or the tree cell of the BBMP. We want to collaborate to protect the city.”
She added the Commissioner took cognisance of other suggestions mentioned in the petition including that of appointment of persons from the general public be appointed as Tree Marshals from each ward to safeguard trees.
Other than these two road widenings, several other trees have been marked for cutting to make way for a metro depot among other infrastructural projects including others which fall outside the BBMP limits.