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260 Tree felling BMRCL Extinction

BENGALURU: The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) has felled 260 trees for the two new Metro lines on Phase-2 by ducking the High Court directions that restrict the number of trees to be felled to 50 per application. With the commencement of work on the new Metro line — RV Road to Bommasandra and Gottigere to Nagawara — BMRCL has felled the 260 trees with most of it falling on Bannerghatta Road, on a stretch of 3-4 km.

Highly concerned neither Tree Committee members say directions of the Karnataka High Court have been violated as neither a tree committee meeting was called nor their views sought by the BMRCL authorities before felling the trees. They pointed out that single stretches — where a single application for tree felling would mean restricting the tree axing to less than 50 trees — have instead been divided into different sections to apparently duck the high Court directions which say no public consultation is required if the number trees to be felled is less than 50, said Tree Committee member Vijay Nishanth.

But during 2018-19, BMRCL applied for multiple tree-felling permissions by dividing a single stretch into several stretches on these two reaches and submitted tree felling applications for each, ensuring that each application pertained to a number of trees less than 50.

So, if in one part, the permission had been asked for 44 trees to be axed, it was 49 in the next.

With BMRCL commencing the Reach-6 (Elevated) viaduct construction activities at Jayadeva junction from January 3, this stretch too is a part of the Bannerghatta line and will involve felling of 48 trees.

In recent weeks, trees have been felled from Horticulture Farm to Jayadeva Hospital to Fire Station near Sagar Automobiles.

In fact, 44 trees were felled from Jedimara to Meenakshi Temple, and 49 trees from Jedimara to Jayadeva Hospital. In the south section, from Gottigere-Nagwara, permission has been granted for felling of 48 trees on January 7, 2019. (As per Environment Impact Assessment studies, this 21.2 km long line will involve cutting of 690 trees.)

‘No respect for people’s sentiments’

Further on RV Road, Ragigudda and BTM Road, 33 trees have been felled for construction of stations and viaducts, while from Hebbagoddi police station to Government High School, it is 21 trees. From RV Road to Karumariamma Road, 18 trees and another 20 trees from GIBS business school to East Manorama to Jedimara cross have been felled.

On Horticulture Farm and other sections, felling of trees will soon commence, officials informed. “Despite our letters to the BBMP, no meeting has been called nor the members consulted. In fact, 200 trees were cut to build the RV Road station. To escape the public consultation clause, they have been making separate applications for the same road. If this is the way authorities are going to blatantly violate court rulings, then both elevated corridor and steel bridge projects, too, will see the same thing happening,” said Nishanth.

BBMP DCF Cholarajappa said, “Permission is being given as per the applications filed by BMRCL for various lengths. As per our estimate, there are nearly 200 trees on both sides of the road on a km stretch if it is an old layout. Most of them are avenue trees that are road side trees. A few are young, while the others are old and mature.”

With residents protesting against the tree felling activity on various stretches, BMRCL started seeking separate permissions for the same stretches. As far as Phase 2A is concerned, between KR Puram-Central Silk Board Metro lines where 1,036 trees are on the felling list. Cholarajappa said, “We have not received any application for translocation of trees from BMRCL. Any relocation of the identified trees will have to be done by BMRCL as they have the staff, machinery and funds.”When CE contacted BMRCL spokesperson BL Yashavanth Chavan, he said he would talk to the concerned chief engineer and get back.

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