BENGALURU: IF any tree or its branches have been chopped or damaged for providing better visibility of hoardings in the city, then such hoardings should be pulled down, the Lokayukta has ordered. He has asked the BBMP to take action against advertising agencies which cause such damage to trees.
With the BBMP forest cell having a meager staff of 12 and being unable to check the rise in the number of case of tree felling sans permission, the Lokayukta felt that the authorities should form ‘Tree Vigilance Teams’ in consultation with activists, environmentalists and NGOs.
On March 3 and 4, 17 trees were poisoned with chemicals and acids while 13 trees were chopped to provide better visibility to a big hoarding on a private property on Kalamandir Road in Marathahalli. Subsequently, a case was filed under the Karnataka Tree Preservation Act by the BBMP forest cell while a complaint was filed by social activist Sai Dutta with the Lokayukta.
Lokayukta Justice P Vishwanath Shetty observed, “No one will cause any damage to trees or any branches of trees. It is the duty of the forest wing of BBMP as well as BMTF to take legal action with the assistance of jurisdictional police. If any ad agency or representative of such agencies cause any damage to the trees, BBMP is required to remove the hoardings and cancel the permission/licence granted to such agencies.”
Welcoming the order, urban conservationist Vijay Nishanth, who saved a few trees and was asked to attend the hearings, said, “With this direction, nobody will dare to cut or poison trees. As per their suggestions, we will sit together and discuss how to form ground level teams to fight such a menace.”
“The Lokayukta has given us six weeks time to discuss and form vigilance teams,” added Sai Dutta. “We have been asked to discuss the issue with the forest cell and submit a report by October 10,” he said.
Three trees saved
Of the 17 trees that were poisoned recently, three have been saved and revived over the last few months. In the place of 14 poisoned trees, another 14 trees have been planted in the same area.