The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Forest Division has come under intense criticism by environmentalists for its recent tree cutting activities in Jayanagar and Nrupatunga Road for the Tender SURE Road Project. 

 

Read more: Activists protest as BBMP decides to axe 40 trees

 

The BBMP was accused of being hand-in-glove with both private contractors (for widening the road) and the timber mafia (who are accused of seeking the wood from the fallen trees). 

Bowing to such criticism, the BBMP's Forest Division has decided that it will place every file with regards to the tree felling before the tree committee first. 

 

Dismissing the claims made by activists of the involvement of a timber mafia, Assistant Conservator of Forest, Ranganath Swamy said, "The BBMP has auctioned the trees for ₹80,000. The tenders were invited through a notification in the paper. If we were involved with the timber mafia, the reported cost would have doubled. Moreover, the cut trees were Rain and Mayflower, which are not used as timber." he said.

 

However, to soothe hurt feelings and as a compensation, the BBMP forest division will ensure that once the duct laying for the road project is complete, two Pongamia tree saplings, measuring eight feet in height,  will be planted in the same area where the trees were cut. 

 

The BBMP will also plant 14 saplings and guard it well, he added.

 

Appu Rao, Deputy Conservator of Forest, BBMP stated that the Tender SURE project has been taken up for 2.5 kms in Jayanagar 4th block.  

 

About 21 trees were identified in Jayanagar 11th Main Road and in 5th block, but the forest department stopped chopping the trees after cutting seven trees.  

 

"The issue became very sensitive after the hue and cry raised by the activists. These seven  trees were old and most of them were rain trees that could uproot at any time."

 

He further noted that the BBMP has time and again faced the same situation with regards to tree cutting. 

 

When a tree uproots the BBMP is blamed by public that such trees are not being cut and when the department takes up tree cutting for the project, the activists raise objections.

 

 "BBMP forest department is in a fix over these issues, and henceforth, forth we will send all the requests before the tree committee to take a decision," he said.