Karnataka Road Development Corporation (KRDCL) has sent a proposal to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)’s Forest Department, seeking permission to remove more than 3,700 trees to make way for the elevated corridor project in Bengaluru. The proposal comes amid growing opposition from residents and environmentalists against the 102-km corridor proposed across the city.
KRDCL, which is constructing the elevated corridor, has sought to remove or translocate 3,716 trees. “We have received the proposal but we are yet to discuss it. We will look at ways to reduce the number of trees cleared for the project and prepare a survey of our own. Since this is a large number of trees in question, we are required to hold a public meeting,” Assistant Conservator of Forests Prakash AD told TNM.
According to Section (8) of the Tree Preservation Act (TPA), 1976, if more than 50 trees have to be cut for any public purpose like road widening, construction of road, canal, tanks, buildings etc, permission can only be issued after the official concerned considers the public opinion.
Activists questioned the need to prepare a report detailing the number of trees to be removed for the elevated corridor when the project is yet to be given environmental clearance. An environmental impact assessment should be conducted by the State Environment Impact Assessment Agency (SEIAA) before any work on the project can be taken up.
"This project is not even there in both existing and proposed master plans for Bengaluru and we have petitioned the SEIAA not to carry out an environmental impact assessment on the network of elevated corridors proposed", says Vinay Sreenivasa, a Bengaluru-based activist.
Moreover, a study by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) found that the construction of the elevated corridor will lead to more traffic congestion and pollution in the future.
Cholaraja, Deputy Conservator of Forests, BBMP, however, claimed that the department is only following procedure by preparing a fresh survey about the number of trees to be felled for the project. "We have begun a survey to estimate the number of trees to be cut for the project. We do not know about the opposition to the project. We are only doing what is being asked of us,” he says.
The process for obtaining environmental clearance for the project has been initiated but is yet to be completed at present. Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has given his assent for the construction of the network of elevated corridors pending environmental clearance.