A total of 3,519 trees are slated to be axed in various parts of Bengaluru for multiple infrastructure development projects around the city.

Will over 3500 trees in Bengaluru be axed Activists await expert committees reportCourtesy: Mokkie via Wikimedia Commons
news Environment Sunday, December 29, 2019 - 16:26

An expert tree committee, on Friday and Saturday, visited and studied various areas in and around Bengaluru where more than 3,500 trees are proposed to be axed as part of several infrastructure development projects. This comes seven months after the Karnataka High Court had directed the state government and its urban agencies to form a committee of experts (in environment, science, technology and related fields) to study how the trees can be saved. Based on their observations, the team will submit a report to the High Court on January 20, on whether the trees can be saved, and if yes, how many and the methods to save them. 

The tree committee was constituted based on a PIL filed by a team of environmental activists led by Devare DT, trustee of the Bangalore Environment Trust (BET). 

Environmental activists are now awaiting the report from the expert tree committee, and are preparing themselves for a long fight to protect Bengaluru’s green cover. Meanwhile, activists have begun a petition to attract attention to the tree felling issue, and have collected more than 300 signatures. 

The trees to be felled are located in areas across the city. In Kagallipura range in the outskirts of the city, 115 trees are proposed to be cut down for the Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) projects. Another 337 trees are set to be cut in the Kagallipura range for road widening projects by the Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL).

KRDCL has further requested the felling of 1,116 trees for another road widening project along the road connecting Anekal, Yelahanka and KR Puram. Meanwhile, the Karnataka State Highways Improvement Project (KSHIP) has requested the felling of 1,822 trees along the Nice Road-Magadi Road Highway. Further, the BMRCL has requested 129 trees to be cut in Kadugodi (near KR Puram) for Metro projects. 

This brings the total number of trees slated for felling to 3,519.

Arun Prasad, an activist told TNM, “The tree inspection committee will listen to whatever the Bengaluru civic body, BBMP, tells them. I have been told that they (the experts) have approved the tree fellings. We will take further action after consulting with others.” 

Activists have begun an online signature campaign to mobilise support from Bengaluru citizens, towards the fight to save the city's trees. 

Incidentally, massive tree-felling projects cannot go ahead without public consultation, according to section (8) of the Tree Preservation Act (TPA), 1976, However, the Times of India reported that a public consultation by KRDCL saw very little participation, with around 20 citizens in participation. Venkatesh Murthy, an official with the Forest department, told TOI that only about 100 trees could be saved by transplantation.

This is not the first time that the tree cover in Bengaluru has come under threat. In February this year, thousands of trees were slated to be axed for an unapproved elevated corridor project. The project has since been approved, despite criticism from scientists and activists.

Read: K'taka govt sends proposal to cut 3,700 trees for yet-to-be-cleared elevated corridor

Over 3000 trees to be axed, lakes will be impacted by Bengaluru elevated corridor: EIA

Karnataka CM orders cancellation of Bengaluru elevated corridor project tender

‘Don’t need another flyover, give us metro’: Residents of Koramangala-Ejipura

 

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