Staff Reporter

Ombudsman to hold special sitting on June 3

Petition follows photo published in The Hindu

Order for study by Kerala Forest Research Institute

Kozhikode: Ombudsman for Local Self-Government Institutions M.R. Hariharan Nair will hold a special sitting in Thiruvananthapuram on June 3 to take a decision on a complaint filed by an eco group against felling of shade trees inside the Government Teachers’ Training Institute (GTTI) compound at Nadakkavu in the city.

The Ombudsman issued orders on Wednesday after Conservation of Nature Society joint-secretary Vinod Kumar Damodar submitted a petition against the Kozhikode Corporation’s decision to cut down 13 trees in the GTTI compound without any valid reason.

However, the Corporation authorities argued that the contract had been approved for cutting down only four trees posing a threat to buildings and the students.

In his order, the Ombudsman directed a panel of experts attached to the Kerala Forest Research Institute to study the actual details of the age of the trees and to explore possibility of any other alternative other than cutting the trees.

Collector petitioned

Last month the society had petitioned District Collector P.B. Salim to prevent the felling of shade trees. The society’s executive committee members had also visited the campus and examined the trees.

They found that only the branches and not the whole trees posed a threat to the buildings in and around them. Complaints in this regard had also been forwarded to the Assistant Inspector-General attached to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The society took up the issue of felling of trees in the compound on the basis of a photograph published in The Hindu on April 21.

The civic body had on March 23 invited tenders for felling the four huge trees. Nearly 111 contractors from various districts evinced interest. The highest bid of Rs.2.05 lakh was accepted.

The Finance Committee of the Corporation approved the auctioning of the trees on March 26 and the Corporation council also endorsed the decision on April 22.

In another order, the Ombudsman directed the Corporation authorities to take immediate steps to employ any other agency other than Kudumbasree to remove the solid waste accumulated on the Kottaram road.

The order was passed after residents’ association representative A.V. Scaria had filed a complaint against the corporation for not removal garbage.

The Ombudsman considered 45 complaints at the sitting held at the Collectorate conference hall on Wednesday. Four of them were settled.

It will consider complaints pertaining to Wayanad and Malappuram districts on Thursday.