Reconsider decision to fell trees, citizens tell KRDCL

Reconsider decision to fell trees, citizens tell KRDCL

File photo for representation

Around 20 citizens met the managing director of the Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL), demanding that the agency reconsider its decision to fell trees for four road-widening projects.

The number of trees to be lost to the projects are International Airport (1,758 trees), 15-km stretch from Nelamangala to Madhure (869 trees), 23-km stretch from Madhure to Devanahalli Road (1,593 trees), 33-km stretch from Bidadi to Jigani (184 trees), Bannerghatta to Anekal (520 trees) and the 39-km stretch from Anekal to Hoskote (3,637 trees).

Other than these six projects, the KRDCL is widening four roads around Bengaluru’s periphery, but the number of trees to be affected is not known yet.

On receiving the representation, B S Shivakumar, managing director of the agency, said, “If we start doing public consultations for everything, no projects will see the light of day.”

However, the citizens tried to reason with him, saying under the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, any project that requires felling of more than 50 trees needs public consultation, an environmental impact assessment report, a government order and a social impact assessment report.

They also said projects like the suburban rail would solve traffic woes.

To this, Shivakumar said, “It’s not a new project, and only an existing road is being widened. Traffic problems cannot be solved by the suburban train alone.”

Srinivas Alavilli, co-founder of Citizens for Bengaluru, said, “These peripheral road-widening projects will touch Budigere Cross, Mandur, Attibele, and Sarjapur. The MD argues that the suburban train doesn’t go into the southern arc of Bengaluru. But development cannot happen in silos like this. We are applying RTIs to get relevant documents for these projects. Only a feasibility report is available online.”

In a part of the representation that talks about the economic valuation of ecosystem services provided by trees, the letter reads, “Assuming that about 50% of the 8,500 trees to be felled are over 50 years old, the total value lost to society works out to Rs 434.76 crore per year.”

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