Activists question tree-felling for road project

Why the haste? Bengaluru activists question clearance for tree-felling for road project

The matter is posted for October 29

A tree cut down near Indlabele on Attibele-Sarjapura Road. Credit: Special Arrangement

Activists on Tuesday questioned the Forest Department’s haste to clear tree-felling to widen the Sarjapura-Attibele Road.

The move comes amid the listing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the project for hearing in the court on October 29.

Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited’s (KRDCL) road-widening projects were halted following accusations of violations. About 2,300 trees were felled before the court intervened to order an expert study on saving the remaining vegetation.

In September, the court allowed the works to resume after a detailed report by an expert committee from the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS). On October 5, the Forest Department gave permission to axe the trees citing the court order.

Activists pointed out that the court is about to take up a PIL questioning the lack of an environment impact assessment, listed for hearing on October 29.

The matter is posted for October 29.

While the KRDCL had proposed to cut 5,853 trees, the expert committee recommended retaining 133 and transplanting 263.

Despatching an email to the department, activist Rajani Santosh questioned the haste in allowing the tree-felling. She said it was disheartening to notice that the department had given up on saving the trees.

“After spending one year and an entire expert committee (UAS), the total trees saved are a mere 2% with another 4.5% being transplanted,” she said.

Rajani told DH that the order to fell trees was not made public. “We came to know that trees are being felled and, when questioned, forest officials cited the order. Despite court orders directing officials to make such documents public, we are kept in the dark,” she said.

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