BMRCL obtains BBMP’s nod to fell 200 trees

BMRCL obtains BBMP’s nod to fell 200 trees

While rules state that felling 50 trees and more needs public consultation, BMRCL has obtained permission to axe 200 in a year, thanks to “cooperation” from BBMP forest officials.

Documents available with the DH reveal that the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) received permission to topple 213 trees through eight separate applications.

All of those applications, except for one, sought permission to axe five to 45 trees to clear the way for the RV Road-Bommasandra metro line (Reach 5) under Phase 2.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has cleared the applications in a matter of a year from May 25, 2016 to June 21, 2017, including one application to cut 68 trees without holding the mandatory public consultation.

In 2014, the High Court of Karnataka ordered the Palike to set up zonal-level tree committees to monitor developmental projects involving felling of more than 50 trees. For Reach 5, the BMRCL did not convene the south zone tree committee or set up a separate committee for consultation.

Dattatreya T Devare of Bangalore Environment Trust, a member of the tree committee who obtained the applications through a series of RTI petitions, said the BBMP and BMRCL have used the piecemeal arrangement to exploit the rule that allows felling of trees below 50 without consultation.

“For the project on Kanakapura Road (Reach 4 of Phase 2), they held a public consultation almost as a ritual and rejected all our suggestions. For the metro line to Bommasandra (Reach 5), there was no meeting at all,” he said.

Asked about the violation, BMRCL spokesperson and general manager (finance) U A Vasanth Rao said metro engineers and BBMP officials have only minimised the environmental impact since the initial survey “showed that we have to fell about 700 trees”.

“In consultation with the BBMP forest department, we transplanted 250 trees with a survival rate of over 90%. Another 250 trees were saved as we did not widen the road, but managed the project through traffic management,” Rao added.

But Devare insisted that good work is no substitute for public consultation. “This shows officials don’t want people’s participation in the project, though the court has ruled that it is mandatory. We have to run from pillar to post to know what they will do for the trees,” he said.

Questioned over why the tree committee was not formed, BBMP DCF M K Cholarajappa said since he took charge of the position four months ago, permission was given to cut 18 trees only.

“Since we are getting applications to fell less than 50 trees, we have to clear them as per the rules,” he added.

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