Greens, locals lock horns over civic amenity plans

Felling of tress in buffer zone of Thurahalli forest roils environmentalists

Greens, locals lock horns over civic amenity plans

Controversy erupted near the BGS Global Hospital at Mylasandra village when many trees were felled on a land claimed to be adjacent to the Thurahalli mini forest to pave the way for the construction of a school, playground, hospital, burial ground and a community hall.

While wildlife volunteers allege that the land in question in the village is the buffer zone of the forest, which should not be touched as per Supreme Court guidelines and environmental laws, villagers said the land was granted to them by the State government which reflects in the records of Rights, Tenancy and Crops (RTC).
The villagers reportedly employed an earthmover to mow down shrubs and trees since morning.

Soon after getting information of tree-felling, wildlife volunteers swung into action. Besides lodging a complaint in the local police station, they alerted mediapersons.

Wildlife volunteer Kumar said the land falls under the buffer zone of Thurahalli minor forest and thus it should not be granted to anybody. Another volunteer Valleesh Vasuki said that as per the Supreme Court guidelines, no construction activities should be carried out if there are thick plantations. These guidelines have been grossly violated in the minor forest.

He said that this forest is home to many wildlife creatures such as cobra, mongoose, deer, peacock, wild boar, fox and a variety of birds. Any development activity, said Vasuki, would disturb the wildlife.

Residents refute claims

However, local residents Nagaraju and Muniraju refuted the claim. Showing the RTC, they claimed that the total extent of government land in Survey No 22 of the village is 108 acres and six guntas. In 1999-2000, the State government passed an order granting 29 acres and 28 guntas to people in Mylasandra, while retaining the remaining 78 acres and 18 guntas as forest land. The villagers intend to build school, playground, burial ground and a community building.

Nagaraju refuted the claim that the land in question was the buffer zone where they have planned to build the facilities.

“Only a portion of the land we intend to develop is buffer zone. Adhering to various laws, we will only develop a playground. In the rest of the land, we will carry out various development works as per our plan. The allegations of violations of Forest Act and environmental norms are baseless,” said Nagaraju.

The controversy erupted just two days prior to the ground-breaking ceremony of these development works by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

In two acres of the same survey number of Mylasandra village, the government intends to develop a memorial for Kannada actor, the late Vishnuvardhan, which the greens have been opposing. The land chosen for the memorial is right in the middle of forest.

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