BENGALURU: A reply to an RTI plea filed by an NGO has revealed that no feasibility studies were conducted on the proposal to axe 112 trees along Jayamahal Road.
BBMP had proposed to axe the trees in February to widen Jayamahal Road to ease traffic congestion. Following public objection, they had invited for written objections and had reportedly received some 30,000 of them.
Even after the objections were filed, the BBMP maintained that the only option was to axe about 70 trees and transplant the rest, and as the RTI reply shows, these decisions were taken without conducting any studies.
BBMP had formed two committees to monitor the greening of the city — the Greening Committee for Bengaluru North and South or the Samanvay committee.
The civic body had placed this information before the High Court. However, replies to other RTI pleas filed by NGO Jhatkaa.org reveal that these committees were shut down in December 2014. Another RTI reply also states that the civic body has no previous experience of transplanting trees.
Avijit Michael, Executive Director of Jhatkaa.org said, “The RTI responses reveal BBMP’s lackadaisical approach to tree felling. They have stated that there was no other choice. But how do they know they do not have a choice without even conducting any research, surveys or studies to come up with alternative proposals?”
In a statement issued last year, the NGO stated that Deputy Conservator of Forests Appu Rao had invited Jhatkaa.org to be a part of the North Zone Tree Committee, which has ceased to exist since December 2014. Rao confirmed this.
Srinivas Alavilli, a member of the civic group Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB) said he wasn’t surprised by the revelations. “They had even asked for a public opinion but haven’t responded to a single objection. So it’s ridiculous to say there’s no other option available. There’s no transparency in the decision making at all.”
In its August 7, 2014, judgment, the High Court had directed that felling of trees would be considered only after the authorities concerned had fully explored all the alternatives and had asked for objections received from the public to be considered.The BBMP Commissioner couldn’t be reached for his response to the RTI findings.