Turahalli reserve forest: Patrolling makes controversy

The patrolling pathway inside the Turahalli forest.

Patrolling pathways inside the Turahalli forest are leading to a  controversy. 

The Forest Department on Friday started building all-weather patrolling pathways in the dry and deciduous forest on the southern outskirts of Bengaluru but halted the work hours later following opposition from citizens and wildlife conservationists. 

The patrolling pathways, according to the department, will help monitor and manage the 1,100-acre forest, besides acting such as cycling and walking tracks for local residents. 

But citizens feared that the forest was encroached upon and the road was being built by a realtor. Things became clear only Saturday evening when they contacted the department and learnt the truth. 

R Gokul, Chief Conservator of Forests, Bengaluru Circle, defended the pathways, saying there is a need to keep an eye on encroachers, and people dumping garbage and setting the forest on fire.

“We are constructing the pathways because there is none inside the forest. This will only help in better conservation,” he said. 

The officer described as “unfounded” the fears raised by citizens and conservationists that the department is risking the flora and fauna in the delicate forest. “Increased patrolling and creating space for citizens to walk and cycle on the periphery of the forest will only act as our ears and eyes,” Gokul said. “We hope people will immediately alert our staff if there is any untoward incident. As far as deer, peafowls and other animals inside the forest are concerned, members of the public will not be allowed in their habitat.” 

Siddaramappa C, Deputy Conservator of Forests, said the patrolling pathway would be open to the public only on the outside while only the forest staff would access it from the inside.

“This is a management and conservation exercise and does not require permission from the central government under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972,” he added.

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