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An online petition has been started demanding the project to be shelved and details on the steps taken by the BMRCL regarding the objections filed.

A two-way road with tall trees on either sideImage for representation
news Environment Wednesday, June 30, 2021 - 14:09

In yet another project aimed for the development of the city, Bengaluru’s green cover finds itself at stake. As many as 3,366 trees have been marked in separate packages and will be cut down to make way for a part of the Bengaluru Metro link from Central Silk Board to the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA). In protest, an online petition has been started by citizen activist Sandhya Balakrishnan via Jhatkaa.org against the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) project. The petition calls for people to send in their objections to the Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) in large numbers. As per the two public notices issued by the DCF, who is also a tree officer, the deadline for the objections has been set for June 30 and July 2 respectively.

The petition states that the official estimate of trees which will be affected by the project is 3,366, but the actual number may be as high as 5,500 trees in the 55 km-stretch. The petition calls for a public notice on details of the tree cutting on the entire Central Silk Board-KIA line and not just the subpackages. It also calls for a stay on the felling of these 3,366 trees, and details on the actions taken regarding these objections.

The Bengaluru Metro Rail project has been split into Phase 2A and 2B, which is again fragmented into Package 1 and 2. The BMRCL is building a 55-km line from Central Silk Board to KIA. On April 30, during the lockdown induced by the second wave of COVID-19, a public notice stated the proposal to remove 1,026 trees in the Kodibeesanahalli to KR Puram/ Byappanahalli line, also known as Phase 2A - package 2. Over 3,000 citizens asked the DCF to extend the deadline to raise objections, following which the date for the same was set for June 30. Soon after this, objections were again invited until July 2 for cutting of further 833 and 1,507 trees for package 1 of 2A (Central Silk Board to Kodibeesanahalli) and package 1 of 2B (Kasthuri nagar to Kempapura, Hebbal) of the same project. The project is estimated to cost Rs 14,788 crore and the BMRCL has said that the route will be open for the public in 2023.

Speaking to TNM about the petition and the public’s discontent with the project, Sandhya said, “Data on projects of such nature and magnitude involving the environment need to be readily available. But having broken this metro rail project into such fragmented package-wise splitting has made it so complex. I’ve gotten no response on my Right To Information (RTI) applications to BMRCL. With the pandemic situation, none of us are able to go and check these stretches. As citizens, we are questioning the timing and the lack of meaningful public consultation.”

Adding to this, environmental activist Dattaraya T Devare, who has earlier filed two PILs against BMRCL said, “I call for an extension on the deadline for objections to the DCF. This will help us go to these sites after the weekend curfew and other strict restrictions are lifted.”

“So many projects are being announced proposing the cutting down of trees in such urgency, there’s a sense of helplessness. However, we can’t be blindly moving like this. It is our right to know about the details without such systemic confusion by government bodies. We also stand for the development of the city but not at the cost of losing out on so much greenery and adverse effects on the environment,” Sandhya added.

Read: 6000 trees to be felled for Bengaluru lake rejuvenation: Activists raise objections

Read: Time to file objections for felling 6,000 trees for Bengaluru lake project extended

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