Poisoning of trees: officials fail to appear before Lokayukta

Poisoning of trees: officials fail to appear before Lokayukta

Revenue officials of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and senior officials in the secretariat failed to appear before the Lokayukta in the case of poisoning of trees to clear visibility of advertisement hoardings.

Lokayukta Justice P Vishwanath Shetty has issued fresh notice to the officials to appear during the next hearing.

It was mentioned in the complaint filed by activist Saidatta that trees were poisoned on the outer ring road (ORR) near Marathahalli and near Mahadevapura police station. The trees were poisoned and later pruned only to ensure a clear visibility for a few advertisement hoardings. During the hearing on Thursday, Assistant Conservator of Forests (North sub-division) N Shanta Kumar and two Deputy Range Forest Officers were present. However, the revenue officials who are responsible for issuing advertisement licences remained absent.

“I had directed the respondents (revenue and also senior officials at the Urban Development Department and City Police Commissioner) to send responsible officers to be present before the Lokayukta. No one is present. No doubt that forest wing of BBMP has a greater responsibility to protect the tree growth. However, that does not mean that when an offence of theft or mischief is committed with regard to valuable tree growth and valuable state asset is being destroyed, the police can be silent spectators. The police have a duty to protect and prevent the commission of offence and register a case against the culprits,'' Justice Shetty said.

The Lokayukta has directed the forest wing officials of the BBMP to go round the city and a have a regular watch with regard to the tree growth in the city and if any unnatural destruction of the tree growth has taken place, they are obliged to take proper legal steps to prosecute the culprits.

The complaint had stated that 17 trees were poisoned by injecting acid near Marathahalli ORR. Similarly, more than 15 trees were injected with acid and later pruned near Mahadevapura police station.

The Lokayukta has issued fresh notice to additional chief secretary, Urban Development Department, BBMP commissioner, BDA commissioner and police commissioner to submit a report April 26, 2017.