Aerobics class in Turahalli forest sparks outrage

Prohibited area

Turahalli Forest near Banashankari in Bengaluru. DH FILE PHOTO

When a city-based aerobic group decided to hold a session amid a stunning backdrop of the jungle, little did it know that it would end up rousing a hornet's nest. 

Members of the Step Max Fitness group allegedly held an outdoor aerobics session at the Turahalli State Reserve Forest in South Bengaluru on Sunday. Their session would have gone unnoticed had they not uploaded a video of the event to WhatsApp, which was picked up by members of the United Conservation Movement (UCM), encompassing NGOs and conservation groups. 

The video shows a dozen women standing on a flat rock hill, with a hillock in the background, being guided into aerobics by a man in his late twenties. 

"What the video shows is a clear violation of the law," said Manjunath J of the Indian Wildlife Club, who pointed out that signposts erected by the Forest Department at both entry locations into the reserve forest clearly prohibit trespassing and recreational activities. 

Instead, as Joseph Hoover of the UCM, said: "What we see in the video are men and women causing a racket and playing loud music in an area known for its population of deer, black-naped hares, peacock, not to mention hundreds of species of birds, snakes and lizards." 

Complicating matters, however, is the fact that local forest officials have denied that the incident took place. The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Punati Sridhar told DH that his subordinate forest officers had claimed that there was no confirmation that the aerobics event had taken place, although the RFO added that he and his men were elsewhere at the time.

The UCM said the video, coupled with a WhatsApp invite mentioning Turahalli, was evidence enough. Hoover claimed he was able to pinpoint the location where the video was filmed. 

The UCM has filed a complaint with the forest department and said that it will proceed with a police complaint against the aerobics group.

Representatives of the group could not be reached for comment. 

Comments (+)