If the saplings planted on paper matched those actually planted, the city would have become a forest by now: Mayor

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) Forest Department came under fire at the council meeting on Saturday. The councillors demanded that the department be disbanded and officials repatriated to their parent department (forest).

The issue was raised by Ruling Party Leader N. Nagaraju, who said the department had permitted felling of as many as 10 trees in Jayanagar 3 and 4 Block. This, he alleged, was done to increase the visibility of advertisement hoardings and display boards in front of shops.

“The trees were all felled and stone slabs were even put in place to cover the spots. The officials claim they have planted 25,000 saplings last month. Where have these saplings been planted? The BBMP is spending Rs. 10 lakh a month on the department. Instead of protecting the green cover in the city, the department is destroying it,” he charged and demanded the Commissioner to initiate criminal proceedings against the officials.

Mayor B.S. Sathyanarayana also criticised the forest department. He said the Chief Conservator of Forest in the BBMP was drawing a monthly salary of Rs. 1 lakh. “Despite drawing such a huge salary, there is no achievement in the sapling plantation programmes in the city,” he claimed.

Earlier, he said the BBMP did not have a forest department and councillors had to go to Aranya Bhavan in Malleswaram to get permission even to prune branches. “To make the whole process easier, we decided to set up a forest department in the BBMP. But officials are looting the BBMP. If the number of saplings planted on paper matched those actually planted on ground, Bangalore would have become a forest by now. We do not need such officials,” he said .

Noting that no prescribed criteria was followed by the officials before felling trees, BBMP Commissioner M. Lakshminarayan said show cause notice would be served to the officials concerned. He said Rs. 10 crore would be spent to plant saplings across the city and tenders for the same had been floated.

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