Felling of trees on school campus upsets students

Principal claims 10 rotten trees axed; BBMP puts number at 31

Felling of trees on school campus upsets students

A number of trees, several of them said to be healthy ones, have been felled on the Kendriya Vidyalaya campus, Jalahalli West, in northern Bengaluru over the last two months, drawing criticism from conservationists, parents and schoolchildren.

But there are conflicting accounts of the incident and the exact number of trees. Vijay Nishanth, an urban conservationist who has founded ‘Vruksha’, a project to quantify biodiversity through a scientific tree census, said that at least 50 trees were felled.

Tamarind and Bilva Patra were among the trees that were chopped. Several trees were healthy, he claimed.

Nishanth said he learnt about the incident through an e-mail he received on January 15 from schoolchildren, parents and some members of the school staff. The e-mail contained videos and pictures of the “illegal” tree-felling.

“The trees looked healthy but were still chopped, which is clearly against the Forest Conservation Act, 1972. I am told the school principal Sudesh Singh and some officials of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) are behind this act. Some members of the staff called me, saying that government officials took no action despite complaints,” he told Deccan Herald. “A young child mailed me, asking why healthy trees are cut down?”

The principal had sent a letter to the BBMP’s Assistant Conservator of Forests, E H Satyanarayana, in June 2015, requesting him to remove 10 rotten trees from the school campus and get the branches cleared. This newspaper has a copy of the letter. But when Deccan Herald contacted the staff concerned, they confirmed that more than 10 trees were felled.

“Many trees were cut down during the winter break from December 23, 2015, to January 3, 2016. More than seven healthy trees were removed on January 15. The illegal felling of trees has disillusioned students and teachers alike. It is quite shocking that the head of an educational institution is involved in such an act,” said a member of the school staff, who did not want to be identified, fearing the wrath of the principal.

When contacted, Singh said that the trees were cut down by the Forest Department following complaints from parents. “Parents feared that these rotten trees could cause accidents. So, just about 10 trees were cut down,” she stressed.

But an official in the BBMP’s Forest Department said that at least 31 trees were chopped. “The school had requested us to chop more than 60 trees and branches as it stands on a forest land. But we felled only 31 of them,” the official told this
reporter.

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