To shed cost burden, Palike wants to wind up forest cell

Forest dept better placed to protect trees: officials

To shed cost burden, Palike wants to wind up forest cell

The BBMP wants to merge its forest cell with the Forest department to avoid financial burden and ensure tree protection.

The two departments have had many formal and informal meetings in the past on this subject, but the merger has not materialised. The two agencies have again started talks on the issue.

In the last five years, BBMP has expressed its intention to wind up the cell, saying it is a financial burden.

“There is a need for an unbiased and strict team to save Bengaluru’s tree cover. There have been many instances where tree officers have given permission to fell trees under pressure from their BBMP colleagues and political bosses,” said a forest cell official.

Brijesh Kumar Dixit, additional principal chief conservator of forests, forest resource management, said they were ready to take over the forest cell if the BBMP doesn’t want it. He said there would be no change in the Tree Act and rules if the cell was merged with the forest department. Before 2007, protection of green cover in Bengaluru was under the Forest department.

There have been instances where DCFs like Brijesh Kumar and Shanta Kumar were shunted out abruptly, when they were trying to bring changes in the cell.

“There is no accountability of saplings planted and trees axed. There is no count of the number of trees in the city. In 2012-13, the RFO of Mahadevapura zone produced bills worth crores of rupees for tree planting in his zone. But no saplings had been planted. When questioned, the RFO said cattle ate them away.”

The RFOs and ACFs propose tree guards costing between Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,000 each, but none are seen on the ground. Every month, the RFOs claims that trees are being pruned to ensure they are not uprooted. Yet, after every rainfall many trees come down and there is no accountability. If the cell is with the forest department, there will be accountability,” the cell official said.

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