The forest cell of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has given its approval for felling more than 800 trees for three projects in the city. In separate orders, the Deputy Conservator of Forest, who is also the tree officer, has given the approval for felling trees to make way for projects such as re-development of Yeshwantpur railway station, a road widening by the Karnataka Road Development Corporation (KRDCL), and metro project near Kempapura.
Interestingly, two projects received just one objection each for the public notice on tree felling. One of them was re-development of Yeshwantpur station. South Western Railway (SWR) had approached for the removal for 253 trees. The objection received was related to the depletion of green cover in the city and suggested changes in design to take up the project adjoining the area where there are no trees. The SWR had replied stating that the re-development project was approved after deliberations at various levels and approved by the Railway Board. The SWR also maintained that existing passenger amenities are not sufficient and inadequate to cater to the future growth of Bengaluru. The SWR defended the need for re-development of the station.
The order by the DCF directed the SWR to retain 79 trees and relocate 33 trees. The remaining 141 trees will be felled.
Another project that received just one objection is a project proposed by the KRDCL. The agency is upgrading the road stretch between Gunjur to Belathur. The agency maintains that the stretch between Attibele and Hoskote is a congested road section and has proposed widening the stretch and providing a signal-free corridor. The 5-km stretch falls within the BBMP limits. The KRDCL is upgrading the road from two lanes to four lanes.
The response from the KRDCL states, “Varthur and Gunjur are two densely built-up areas in the southern part of Bengaluru. These two areas are rapidly developing as residential and commercial hubs in proximity to ITPL, Whitefield, Electronics City, and Hosur. Varthur and Gunjur areas besides being IT hubs have also developed as educational hubs as a number of international schools are located on this stretch. It is a painful sight to see school buses with small children getting stuck in traffic jams for several hours daily. As the road width is narrow and the stretch is underdeveloped, the road is lacking in basic infrastructure such as storm-water drains, utility corridors, and footpaths. In the absence of drains, the rainwater flows on the asphalt road surface, thereby creating potholes and causing inconvenience to road users.”
The tree officer directed the agency to retain 163 trees and relocate 82 trees; the remaining 480 trees will be felled for the project.
Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) had sought permission for axing trees for building an elevated metro line and station from Dooravaninagar to Kempapura Cross. The line is part of the ORR-Airport line. To the public notice issued by the tree officer, 97 objections and suggestions were received. People who objected to the felling of trees for the metro project highlighted the depletion of green cover in the city and some alleged flaws in the process of public consultation. Some of the people also demanded a “walkthrough” of the metro alignment to better understand the project and proposed felling of the trees. The BMRCL had maintained the detailed project report of the metro project and subsequent approvals had already been made available in public domain.
The tree officer took a decision to retain 14 trees and translocate 43 trees coming in the way of the metro project. Two places such as land available on BWSSB STP premises at Hebbal and the KIADB’s hi-tech defence and aerospace park at Hoovinayakanahalli were identified for translocation. Remaining 203 trees will be axed.