Mayor B.S. Satyanarayana on Monday said that the 40 Forest Department staff on deputation in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike were too many for the civic body to handle and added that they were responsible for the indiscriminate felling of trees in the city.

Speaking at a ceremony to present the Karnataka State Environment Awards, Mr. Satyanarayana asked Minister for Forests, Environment and Ecology B. Ramanath Rai to “take back” the Forest Department personnel. “The BBMP had requested one Forest Department official deputed full time, but now we find ourselves with 40 personnel from the department,” he said.

The Mayor also held “Bangalore’s middle class” responsible for tree felling in the city. “It is because of the growing number of apartments and commercial establishments that Bangalore is losing its trees.”

Speaking to the media later, Mr. Rai said that if the Mayor felt there was a problem with the deputation of Forest Department personnel to the BBMP, “he should write an official letter” to the government.

The Mayor also described the dire living conditions for communities in the vicinity of the Mandur landfill, which has been at the centre of the garbage crisis. “Children study and families eat their meals under the protection of mosquito nets,” he said.

While the BBMP was doing an “excellent job” of garbage collection, it was at the final stage of disposal that the civic body faltered, he said. “If we don’t get land from the government to create landfills, we won’t have a choice but to take 2,000 tonnes of garbage to Mandur.” Meanwhile, four waste-processing projects had been cleared by the government, the Mayor said. The ceremony was organised by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and the Department of Forests, Ecology and Environment.