BBMP cell threatened to give consent to axe trees for Metro

BBMP cell threatened to give consent to axe trees for Metro

BBMP cell threatened to give consent to axe trees for Metro
Officials in the BBMP Forest Cell are reportedly being intimidated by the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) officials to give permission to cut trees.

The fear and pressure is such that some forest cell personnel are not even reporting to duty.

Ratna Prabha, BBMP Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF), West, also handling south Bengaluru, said that she was intimidated to give permission to axe 18 trees at Central Silk Board and 10 on Bannerghatta Road.

The ACF further said that she was threatened she would be removed from her post. “I tried to delay permission by saying that the BMRCL should first translocate at least three to four trees before applying for permission to cut 10 trees. But the BMRCL staff said that my delay was resulting in a loss of Rs 32 crore per day for them and that they have deadlines to meet. They told me that they would inform BMRCL managing director (who is also additional chief secretary) about my attitude and get me removed from my post,” she told DH.

“I am a junior here and if I am removed from this post, I will have to wait for another posting from the forest department. Until I get a posting I will not get salary and my family will suffer. I want to save the city’s greenery, but I am helpless,” she said.

A similar plight was shared by other officials in the short-staffed forest cell. The fear among the staff is so high that most of them have gone on leave citing ill health.

According to BBMP records, there are two ACFs (east and west), one deputy conservator of forests, four foresters for south Bengaluru and six foresters handling north Bengaluru. There are no range forest officers. One forester is forced to handle at least 44 wards.

A month ago, the BBMP urged the BMRCL to translocate at least 250 trees of the identified 500 trees for Phase 2 Metro. “I requested the BMRCL to spend some money and translocate 250 trees. Seems like the BMRCL is not interested on translocation. They are keen on cutting trees as it makes their job easy. If we had financial resources, we would have translocated all the trees. But the BMRCL is not cash-starved,” she said.

The forest cell staff say that they can only persuade the BMRCL. However, as per rules, the BMRCL can be forced to plant 10 saplings for axing one tree. A survey shows that the BMRCL has planted just two saplings for axing one tree. All this has happened because no meeting of the tree committee has been held. The committee, constituted by the high court, has also not taken any action against the BMRCL.

Members of the tree committee are now planning to file a contempt case against the BMRCL. “We are being fooled by the BMRCL staff. They are taking us for a ride by applying for tree-cutting permission in parts,” said Vijay Nishanth, a tree committee member.

According to high court guidelines, permission from the tree committee is required to axe more than 50 trees.

Despite repeated attempts, BMRCL officials were not available for comment.

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