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Environmental activists stage protest as 17 trees are cut for musical fountain

Activists climbed a tree to stage a protest in Mangaluru on Monday.— Photo: By Special Arrangement

Activists climbed a tree to stage a protest in Mangaluru on Monday.— Photo: By Special Arrangement  

Environmental activists staged a protest at the old deer park, in front of Kadri Park, here on Monday against felling trees for the on-going musical fountain project and associated works being taken at a cost of Rs. 5 crore.

The Mangaluru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) has taken up the project on a four-acre land belonging to the Department of Horticulture.

In addition to the fountain, an amphitheatre (open air seating arrangement to view the musical fountain show), children’s park, pathway, water pond, security room, compound wall, main gate, project room, ground-level water tank and 15 shops along Kadri Road are part of the project.

The activists under the banner Rashtriya Parisara Samrakshana Okkuta climbed a tree and vented their anger against the government for taking up the project at the cost of trees. They said that Kadri Park is the only surviving largest lung space in the city.

H. Sashidhar Shetty, secretary of the okkuta, claimed that over 50 trees, including saplings, either have been set on fire or removed using an earthmover for the project without the approval of the Forest Department. He said that the government should drop the project.

Mr. Sashidhar Shetty said that it appeared that there was a move to divert the land with greenery for some other purpose in the guise of a musical fountain project.

Dinesh Holla, activist and artist, said that the government, with B. Ramanath Rai from Dakshina Kannada being the Minister for Forests, Environment and Ecology, is least bothered about conserving greenery. The government is already implementing the Yettinahole diversion project at a cost of about Rs. 13,000 crore causing damage to the Western Ghats, he said.

P. Sridhar, Range Forest Officer, Mangaluru, who arrived on the spot, said that 17 trees were uprooted without the permission of the Forest Department on Friday night. Of these, four trees were set on fire. “Neither the MUDA nor the Horticulture Department have taken permission to fell the trees,” he said.

The Forest Department has booked a case against the contractor of the project under Section 33 (2) V of Karnataka Forest Act, 1963, he said.

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