BENGALURU: Looking at the shrinking green cover and the rising number of appeals piling up seeking permission to fell trees, the Karnataka Forest Department is now asking civic authorities to give them money they made from axed trees to buy land and set up lung spaces.This proposal has come at a time when many trees are proposed to be axed for infrastructure works like Namma Metro road, widening of roads to improve connectivity on Outer Ring Road, widen existing city roads, to improve the storm water drains and to create footpaths.
The officials made the proposal at a recent meeting of all government agencies, including BMRCL, BMTC, BBMP, KRDCL and Bescom, to take opinions and table them before the Tree Committee, ahead of the Karnataka High Court hearing scheduled for mid-February.
The meeting was held to take stock of the number of trees in Bengaluru, those proposed to be axed and pruned, number planted under the afforestation programme and their status. “Since it was noted that not many of the trees planted and claimed to have been planted, have survived, the proposal has been made. The agencies spend crores of rupees in preparing the plan and also invest in the project.
But they do not choose areas where damage could be minimal. It has also been observed that the agencies and contractors make a lot of money from the axed trees. So they should hand over the money to the BBMP forest cell or to the forest department which will be utilised in creating lung spaces in Bengaluru to make up for the tree loss,” an official present at the meeting told TNIE.
The officials of both the departments (forest and BBMP) are working on making the same submission to the Karnataka High Court, citing that the lung spaces and tree cover are rapidly dwindling in the City.At the meeting, they pointed out that most of the trees proposed to be axed were on the highways and on City outskirts, where standing trees were old but green and had high economic value.
“With the amount of trees being lost, at least 500 acres of land is required to make up for the losses. So the government should work on a model where land is allocated in the City central to make up for it or allocate in small portions across the city where afforestation is done and a record is also maintained. Even though the Tree Act states that for every tree cut, 10 should be planted, no one knows where they are and their survival rate,” the official said.