The high court has ordered the state government to form an expert committee that will explore every possibility of saving trees proposed to be axed for public projects in the city.
The committee, drawn from science, technology and other fields, should give top priority to saving trees and consider felling them only if there is no other option.
A division bench of acting Chief Justice L Narayana Swamy and Justice Dinesh Kumar passed the ruling on a PIL petition filed by Dattatraya T Devare and Bangalore Environment Trust. The petitioners urged the court to order the authorities to carry out their duties in the spirit of the Karnataka Preservation of Tree Act, 1976, and the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Rules, 1977. They said the state government, the Forest Department, the Bangalore Urban District Tree Authority and the BBMP had failed to enforce the Tree Act.
Environmental activists have for long criticised the axing of trees for Namma Metro projects. In November 2015, the high court had formed a tree committee and ordered the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) to seek its permission before axing 50 or more trees. It also ordered the BMRCL to take the approval of the BBMP's tree authority and the deputy conservator of forests for axing any tree.
But members of the committee pointed out to the court that this was not done. They also stated that the BMRCL hadn't consulted them before felling trees and that it now plans to axe 250 trees between Bannerghatta Road and Nagavara and another 100 trees between Hosur Road and Vellara Junction.