Officials developing tree park to keep people away from Turahalli forest

The forest is unprotected and vulnerable to encroachment

Updated - September 06, 2019 09:02 am IST

Published - September 06, 2019 08:39 am IST - Bengaluru

A view of south Bengaluru from Turahalli forest.

A view of south Bengaluru from Turahalli forest.

To deter people from entering the main forest area, officials are developing an existing tree park near the Turahalli Forest Reserve where people can walk or jog.

“We have started developing the tree park, which is spread over 40 acres. We hope that this will subsequently veer people away from the main forest area,” said Siddaramappa Chalkapure, DCF, Bengaluru Urban.

For now, the department is restricting entry into the forest, allowing people for two hours each during the weekends, he added.

Members of a group which voluntarily pitches in to maintain the forest, though, are not entirely convinced by the idea.

They pointed out that there are gaping holes continuing to facilitate entrants into the main forest despite “regulation” from the Forest Department.

“Regulation is happening. But there are many entry points and fencing is not complete. We can see a lot of activities at the far end, including drinking and gambling. We have seen cars parked outside the forest and people jumping the fence and entering the forest, and people taking their cycles over the fence. The guards for such a large forest are simply not enough,” said a volunteer.

The volunteers’ argument is that their presence will keep a check on illegal activities in the forest.

“We appreciate the regulation, but we are not sure how it helps. The department’s argument is that if we are allowed, everyone else will ask for the same privilege. But they should think about allowing at least those who are environment-related,” said a local resident and member of the group. The Turahalli forest, spread over 590 acres, has been in the news in recent years for being unprotected, witnessing attempts at encroachments and attracting a large number of people for walking, jogging, cycling and climbing activities.

Over the last decade, it was been in the spotlight for land within the forest being earmarked for a memorial for actor Vishnuvardhan.

More recently, plans to set up a biodiversity park within the forest have met with objection from certain quarters, including local residents.

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