Forest dept bars selfie-volunteers in Bandipur

Forest dept bars selfie-volunteers in Bandipur

A release signed by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Punati Sridhar said miscreants were spreading wrong information about the fire, giving an impression that all trees and animals were burnt. File photo

The Forest Department on Tuesday said it will not allow outsiders to plant seedlings or sow seed balls in Bandipur and it doesn’t need any financial support to rejuvenate Bandipur forest, terming the fundraising campaign in the name of forest development a “fraud”.

A release signed by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Punati Sridhar said miscreants were spreading wrong information about the fire, giving an impression that all trees and animals were burnt.

“Since the fire is mostly ground fire, with a couple of rains, the area will rejuvenate. Our endeavour would be to weed out any lantanna that sprouts back, sow local medar bamboo seed balls with the help of locals to help more fodder growth in the area...No other species of seeds will be sown,” it said.

‘No selfie-volunteers please’

The release noted that no outsiders will be allowed to enter the burnt area. “During the fire, the volunteers who came were more interested in selfies rather than helping us put out fire. It became difficult to manage big crowd and some of our attention had to be diverted to take care of them, consequently hampering fire fighting works,” it said.

The department will allow only the local people who can participate in its programme. “The department need not treat them as guests and look to provide accommodation. Further, local villagers also know how to take care of themselves and be safe from elephants in Bandipur,” the release said, justifying its decision to bar outsiders.

Nivedita Sunkad of RR Nagar I Care, who recently mobilised to volunteers for plantation of seedlings in Turahalli forest area, said the department should not ignore outsiders. “We met the PCCF and requested that urbanites should be involved to make them feel ownership of the forests,” she said.

However, the activist added that they will take up such activities in forest areas around Bengaluru if the department would not allow them in protected forests.