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Meeting with DCF re 3500 tree on 30 Dec 19

31/12/2019 Mr. Ranganath Swami Deputy Conservator of Forests 

Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike Bangalore

Dear Sir: We thank you for the kind courtesies extended to us during our visit to your offices on December 30, 2019 (Monday). The following issues were highlighted and brought to your attention: 1) Disturbing reports in the media about the proposed felling of more than 3500 trees for various developmental projects. We understand that some of these projects and locations of the trees fall within your jurisdiction and the remaining ones fall within the jurisdiction of the Forest Department, Bengaluru Rural. When the High Court of Karnataka has specifically mandated that no action should be taken without submission of the procedure and completion of tree census, how is it that the Tree Committee has gone ahead with the inspection? We request you to intimate us about the status of inspections and fieldwork by the Tree Committee in respect of these trees. There is also no clarity about the criteria adopted by the Tree Committee in deciding whether a tree should be cut down or not. We require details of this criteria. As per the judgment of the High Court of Karnataka on this aspect, a tree should be cut down only after all other alternatives have been examined and exhausted, with no other options to save the tree. We require clarity on whether this test stipulated by the High Court of Karnataka has been applied in respect of the 3500 trees marked for felling. For instance, age of the tree should not be a criterion to decide if it should be felled or not. We also require a copy of the tree census report prepared by the Tree Committee, setting out the details of the 3500 trees such as species, age, location, etc. We also request your office to proactively work and ensure that the Tree Committee has atleast three (3) representatives from the civil society and concerned citizenry of Bengaluru. WE AS RESPONSIBLE CITIZENS OF BENGALURU, DO NOT WANT EVEN A SINGLE TREE TO BE CUT. OTHER OPTIONS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED. WHILST WE ARE ALL FOR THE METRO AND OTHER PUBLIC UTILITY PROJECTS, THESE PROJECTS SHOULD BE PLANNED IN SUCH A WAY THAT THE GREENERY OF THE CITY IS NOT COMPROMISED IN ANY MANNER. 2) We request that the process of applying online for permission to cut trees be removed. This process makes it easier for unscrupulous elements to hoodwink the authorities and clandestinely fell trees. This process should be made more cumbersome and bureaucratic, in order to ensure that there is greater accountability from corporates and the government, when it comes to preservation of the greenery of Bengaluru. When one cannot apply online and obtain an Adhar card or a ration card, then why are the authorities making the process of Greenocide easier? Trees are the lifeline of the city and should be protected at all costs. 3) We request that your office assumes a proactive role and issues a circular warning all corporates and developers that they have to abide by the law and guidelines laid down by the High Court of Karnataka with regard to preservation of greenery while executing their projects or face stiff and harsh penalties imposed by law. Your office should specifically state that you are committed to protecting the greenery of the city and will deal harshly with any violator. The onus should fall completely on the tree cutter for not complying with the rules and such violators should be severely fined. This will prevent casual massacre of trees. 4) Please ensure that any permission given for felling of trees or pruning of branches be given in both English and Kannada in order to ensure that there is no misuse of the order by unscrupulous elements. There have been instances in the past where permissions for felling issued in Kannada have been misused and trees felled without authorisation. 5) We request that appropriate number of persons from the general public be appointed as Tree Marshals from each ward. For starters, the Ward Committee members could be appointed as Tree Marshals. 6) We request you to forward to us the Minutes of Meeting of the Public Consultation which was held on May 24, 2019 at Bannerghatta Road, with regard to the proposed felling of trees at the premises of the All Saints Church. 7) Please intimate to us the details of the next meeting scheduled between the officials of BMRCL and your offices. We think it is absolutely necessary for citizens to participate in such meetings in order to ensure greater accountability by BMRCL, especially with regard to preservation of the city’s greenery. 8) We understand that your office has a pivotal role to play in preservation of the city. We are of the view that your office is grossly understaffed, considering the volume of work handled by you. Therefore, we would like to place a request for increasing the number of your staff so that the functions and duties imposed upon your office can be handled more efficiently. We would also like to place on record the hard work and sincere efforts put in by your office in preserving the greenery of the city. 9) We kindly request you to intimate the signatories of this communication in the event of any proposed tree felling within the BBMP limits. 10) We request that strong fines and penalties be imposed in a swift manner on violators in order to disincentivise and deter future violations of greenery norms, rules and regulations. This will go a long way in preserving the greenery of the city. We would once again like to place on record our appreciation for patiently listening to our views and your commitment to preserving the greenery of the city. Let us together build a greener, cleaner, beautiful Bengaluru. Thanking you,

For Heritage Beku 

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