Tree choppers pay a price

Twenty-five trees were axed to improve visibility for a hoarding. Thanks to citizen outrage, the hoarding has just been pulled down

Trees lining this road in Marathahalli were chopped so that the hoarding in the distance gets seen better.

Sunil Reddy, software engineer, was driving to work on May 10. When he was near Marathahalli, he saw something that shocked him: 25 trees had been cut down to improve visibility for a hoarding promoting real estate major Sobha.

He took photographs, uploaded them on social media and tagged citizens’ groups in Ibbluru and elsewhere.

The response was quick. Many citizen-activists swung into action. 

“This is on the stretch from Ibbluru signal to Coffee Cafe Day, near The Cult,” he says.

Only trees obscuring the hoarding had been cut down, and he knew someone was at it for a purpose.

They lodged a complaint with the BBMP, and officials arrived for an investigation. The pulled down the hoarding soon.

The owner of the hoarding has been identified as Harish Kumar B P. “An inquiry is on. The BBMP will look at the agency involved and whether the client asked for the trees to be cut down,” says Tharanatha S, deputy range forest officer, Mahadevapura.

The area has witnessed three incidents of trees being cut and killed with acid. “In this case, we are also asking for frame of the hoarding to be taken down,” says Tharanatha.

Trimming and cutting down of trees to make hoardings visible is rampant in Bengaluru.

Vijay Nishanth, conservationist and tree doctor, was instrumental in getting the case noticed by the authorities.

“After the cases were taken to the Lokayukta, rules were laid out that the hoardings would be brought down, and the hoarding owner penalised and licence cancelled,” says Nishanth.

The hoarding was brought down by the BBMP authorities. Activists want the hoarding frame removed.
The hoarding was brought down by the BBMP authorities. Activists want the hoarding frame removed.

Other cases in the past

*A hoarding near Kalamandira, Marathahalli, where 13 trees were chopped and acid poured on 17.

*Another hoarding about 500 ft from Kalamandira led to the 24 trees being affected.

*Eight trees were mutilated in KR Puram.

Can wounded trees be saved?

Vijay Nishanth does his bit to heal trees. “If they are cut or trimmed, the wounds are easier to treat. I treat them with fungicide. In the case of acid being poured on trees, the burnt part has to be scraped off,” explains Vijay.

Morning crime

Trees are cut mostly happen in the wee hours of the morning.

“There are rules laid out by the BBMP about trimming and pruning of trees but advertising agencies flout them,” says Nishanth, who is meeting BBMP officials with suggestions on how to bring violators to book.

Sobha Limited has tweeted to say it is not a party to the chopping of trees to improve visibility for its hoarding.

See trees being chopped?

If you see trees being felled to improve visibility for hoardings, contact a BBMP forest official. “The BBMP is campaigning for conservation of trees and will follow up on this immediately. Make sure you have photographs as proof to raise a complaint,” says tree conservationist Vijay Nishanth.

Protest on May 19

Citizens’ groups are holding a demonstration on May 19 at Belanduru Service Road, from 9 am to 10.30 am, to speak out against cutting of trees for hoardings.

Call 98802 71743/98451 77150, for details.

 

 

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