500 trees felled for road-widening in Nelamangala

500 trees felled for road-widening in Nelamangala

Trees axed as part of a road-widening project between Nelamangala and Doddaballapura. DH Photo/B H Shivakumar

Nearly 500 trees, many over 30 to 50 years old, have been felled to widen a road from Nelamangala to the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) via Madure.

The forest department had given the green signal for the project in May. It is part of the 10-road widening/development projects proposed by the Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL) for which the contract had been given to a company last year.

The roads will form a ring between the NICE and PRR networks and satellite township ring road.

Under Package 2 of the project, the existing road from Nelamangala to Devanahalli is being widened into a four-lane highway, for which the forest department gave permission to fell trees in May this year. Most of the trees have been cut four to five weeks ago.

"The original felling request had about 1,000 trees. After many meetings, it was brought down to 500. It is true that we have not been able to save some of the very old trees," a source in the forest department said.

The KRDCL projects, which require felling of over 8,500 trees, have faced opposition from environmentalists all along, with many questioning the very need for widening the roads like Nelamangala-KIA where there is no demand.

A KRDCL official said 74 trees have been transplanted. “We are trying to save as many trees as possible and haven’t cut even a single tree without permission. It is a government project that has clearance on all legal procedures," said the official.

The Nelamangala road will link Bidadi and allow airport-bound vehicles to bypass congested city roads.

The KRDCL has also been impleaded in an ongoing tree-felling case in the High Court of Karnataka.

Activists expressed concern over the lack of rules for felling trees in areas outside the BBMP limits in Bengaluru Rural and Bengaluru Urban districts, both of which have been exempted from the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, 1976.

"The BBMP has a tree committee that visits the sites to evaluate the projects and holds a public hearing. But in other areas, people don’t get access to information. So, even a public hearing doesn't come to the mainstream. We need a strict monitoring mechanism," an activist said.