Palike ropes in greens ahead of axing trees

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is all set to chop down 66 trees and 154 saplings at Shamanna Garden near RPC Layout for the construction of a railway under bridge (RUB).

Having faced the wrath of civil society organisations and green brigades over the felling of 17 trees along the Sankey Tank Road for road-widening, the Palike has seemingly pre-empted hues and cries concerned people’s groups may raise this time around, by issuing a meeting notice to all the stake holders. 

They include the South Western Railway authority, the BBMP executive engineer for the jurisdiction concerned, and Hasiru Usiru, a green organisation.

Following a High Court order mandating the involvement of a green organisation in the Sankey Tank Road case, the Palike has set a precedent by calling environment groups to discuss the felling of trees at Shamanna Garden. 

This is a huge departure from the previous unilateral decisions taken by the Palike on axing trees across the City for infrastructure projects.

However, it is learnt that the green organisation has refused to come to the table, as the Palike is yet to provide the High Court order in the case of Dr Meenkashi Bharath and Others vs the State of Karnataka.

The meeting was to take place on February 14. Leo Saldanha, co-ordinator for Environment Support Group (ESG), told Deccan Herald that the BBMP had violated the High Court order by calling for a meeting of the railway officials and others, even before the certified copy of the HC ruling had been released.

In its letter to the BBMP Assistant Conservator of Forest, the ESG said: “As regards this meeting, it is essential no action is initiated in any manner relating to the widening of roads and consequential felling of trees, displacement of communities and acquisition of properties, until such time the written order in W.P. No. 23745/2011 is made available by Justice N Kumar and Justice H S Kempanna who issued final the directions in this matter on 30 November, 2011.”
Sources in the BBMP say the RUB construction had been stalled because of glitches in the process of acquiring land. 
Despite the issue of 4/1 notification, the preliminary notification, the Palike has been unable to recover land from private owners.

Specifications issued state that the RUB would be 9.5 metre wide and four metre high. The barrel length of the RUB is 40-50 metres and is estimated to cost about Rs 14 crore. The underbridge construction is now awaiting the government’s approval.

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