Citizens slam felling of trees at night for metro project

They allege that the act went on till before the hearing of the matter in the High Court

June 10, 2020 08:38 pm | Updated 08:44 pm IST

Some of the trees that were cut along Bannerghatta Road on Wednesday for the upcoming Gottigere-Nagawara Namma Metro line.

Some of the trees that were cut along Bannerghatta Road on Wednesday for the upcoming Gottigere-Nagawara Namma Metro line.

Citizens and activists who have been up in arms against the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) for felling trees for the metro project in south Bengaluru were agitated on Wednesday morning to find more trees axed overnight. As the act continued hours before the hearing in the High Court, they have slammed the BMRCL.

Various civic and environmental groups had raised their voices against over 150 trees facing the axe to make way for the Gottigere-Nagawara metro line near Jayanagara Fire Station and other areas without public consultations. While BMRCL had received permission from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to fell the trees, activists alleged that it has been carried out without following due process of law.

Arun Prasad, a resident of Wilson Garden and a citizen activist, was passing by Dairy Circle around 10 p.m. on Tuesday when he saw trees being felled. “They are not supposed to be engaging in that activity at night. They did not have police permission either and the workers had no safety equipment on. They were also compromising public safety while violating the 9 p.m. cut-off. There have been many gross violations and we have lost faith in the expert tree committee. We want public representation in the committee,” he said.

BMRCL said that it had the permission of the civic body. As per the order issued by the Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) of BBMP, permission has been granted to axe 165 trees at various locations, including near Jayanagar Fire Station, Vellara junction, and M.G. Road station. The BMRCL has started removing trees for building a ramp and underground stations

Residents are unhappy over this development.

“Between Saturday and Wednesday, they have chopped at least 40 trees, including illegally felling them at night, just before the matter came up for hearing in the High Court. The tree census was also not done. Last year, when the public consultation took place, they promised to tweak the plan and take the opinion of the expert tree committee. The committee has reviewed its findings without discussing with citizens, and not tweaked the plan,” said Harini Raghavan from Heritage Beku.

She added that on June 1, the petition was filed, and on June 5, they started felling trees despite knowing that a hearing was coming up. “Before Wednesday’s hearing, they cut more trees,” she alleged.

In a letter addressed to the DCF, Heritage Beku had termed the move as ‘arbitrary’ and against the provisions of zonal regulations. They demanded that the BBMP withdraw permission, table the report of the tree committee and call for a public consultation.

BMRCL officials refused to comment, asking The Hindu to instead speak to the BBMP.

BBMP Tree Officer H.S. Ranganathaswamy said the BBMP had uploaded details of the proposal after the tree committee's inspection, but had received no objections. ‘Nobody had chopped trees on Tuesday night. They were clearing the debris. We are following the court’s orders,” he said.

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