BENGALURU: People's movement scored one more victory with the state government withdrawing the proposed amendments to the Karnataka Tree Preservation Act of 1976 on Wednesday. The proposal had ignited strong opposition from general public in the city and green activists. The government withdrew the bill suo motu in the Legislative Assembly. Announcing the decision, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra said that the government is withdrawing the proposed amendment on its own.
The amendment which was introduced during the joint session of the state legislature, exempted permission for axing around 50 species of trees. Civic groups had opposed the move terming it as a big blow for the already receding tree cover in the city. Jayachandra said the amendment, if effected, could lead to rampant illegal tree cutting in the state. “The government realised that the people could misuse the provisions of the bill to cut the trees in forests. This could affect environment and forest cover.
So we decided to withdraw the bill,” Jayachandra announced. The present Act has provision for the farmers to cut 25 species of trees in their farmlands. Just hours before the state government’s decision, civic activists and other eminent personalities voiced their strong objections to the proposed amendments. They claimed the proposed amendments were “unscientific,” as the added species of trees had a lot of medicinal and environmental value. Retired judge of Karnataka and Maharashtra High Courts M F Saldanha, tree committee member and “tree doctor” Vijay Nishanth, theatre personality Prakash Belawadi spoke against the amendment.
Move to demolish Balabrooie Guest House, a 150-year-old heritage structure, on Bellary road, to make way for a legislators’ club, was cancelled after widespread protests by citizens. A 6-lane steel flyover planned between Basaveshwara Circle and Hebbal, for which 800 trees would have been chopped, was scrapped after prolonged campaigns by citizens. A skywalk planned at Mahatma Gandhi Circle was scrapped by BBMP after protests by citizens who felt it would spoil the junction’s aesthetics and block the view of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue