Family at heart of tree poisoning row claims innocence

root cause

Holes drilled into the base of the 15-year-old tree in RR Nagar to inject poison.

The controversy surrounding the poisoning of a tree in RR Nagar took a queer turn on Wednesday night when the family accused of the act claimed they were being framed by a residents’ association.

The residents of Panchasheela Block in BEML Layout 3rd Stage said that on October 25, a 15-year-old Arjun tree in front of the newly constructed home of Dr Narendra Kumar was deliberately poisoned with several holes drilled into its base.

The tree is said to have impeded the view to his home.

The association filed a complaint with the BBMP a day later, accusing the doctor of violating the 1976 Karnataka Tree Preservation Act. Twelve days later, on Tuesday, the news of poisoning was disclosed to the media.

Dr Narendra, who lives in Bahrain, was unavailable to comment. In an emotional statement to DH, his wife Malini, however, claimed her family was a victim of an elaborate power-play by the president of the Panchasheela Block Residents’ Association, Venkatesh T M.

“We were under pressure to join the local residents’ association but because we wanted nothing to do with them and their politics, the pressure turned into intimidation,” Malini said.

She said the campaign of harassment had been ramped up over the last two days, with stones being pelted at her home and garbage being thrown into her property.

“This has given me suicidal tendencies,” she claimed in her statement.

Owing to her husband’s extended absence, Malini added, only she and her under-aged children live in the house. “How can anyone think that we could go out into the street and drill holes into that tree,” she asked. Her claim was contested by Rajendra Singh, who lives across the street from the Narendras.

Singh said he was returning home around 10.15 pm on October 25 when he spotted the doctor drilling holes into the base of the tree.

“When I confronted him, he claimed he was curing the tree of insects. Having worked as the general manager of an insecticide company for 15 years, I knew that this is not how
pesticide is applied to trees,” Singh said.

When pressed further, Singh said Dr Narendra had told him that the fruit from the tree fell onto his property and caused stains. The BBMP Tree Officer for the area, Bhanu Prakash, conducted a spot investigation on Tuesday morning. 

Venkatesh said an FIR is likely to be filed on Thursday. However, DH could not verify the same as the tree officer did not return the calls.

‘Caught red-handed’

The news of the poisoning spread after wildlife activist Joseph Hoover sent images of the tree to the media on Tuesday morning. Hoover said he lives a short distance from the Dr Narendra household and claimed to have maintained a tree census of the neighborhood for several years.

“Dr Narendra is responsible for destruction of two trees during the construction of his home. I caught him red-handed on the second occasion when construction workers acting on his behalf were cutting down a tree,” Hoover said.

Venkatesh said Dr Narendra wanted to eradicate the Arjun tree because it impeded the view to his newly constructed home.

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