13 August 2003

ESG Helpline to Prevent Tree Felling

The Karnataka Forest Department, Bangalore Urban Division, has withdrawn with immediate effect all orders issued to fell trees. This action was taken on the basis of a complaint from Environment Support Group, when it pointed out cases where Bangalore Mahanagara Palike officials were accomplices to illegal tree felling in broad daylight at prominent places in the city.

Mr. Parameshwara, IFS, Deputy Conservator of Forests (Bangalore Urban Division), in his letter dated 02 August 2003, No. A9.V.CR.912/2003-04 (copy enclosed) addressed to the Horticulture Department of Bangalore Mahanagara Palike and Bangalore Development Authority, has stated that any violation of this order would bear consequences such as Contempt of Court and action per the Karnataka Tree Protection Act, 1976.

It may be recalled that the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka has expressed deep concern and shared the anguish of the public at large over the massive felling of trees all over Bangalore. Hon’ble Justice Shri. M. F. Saldanha and Hon’ble Justice Shri.M. S. Rajendra Prasad have set out clear guidelines that would have to be complied with by all agencies before any tree is felled, per their directions in Writ Petition 8178/1999. In effect this would involve planting two saplings prior to felling any tree.

In recent years the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP), Public Works Department (PWD) and various other agencies have felled trees on the basis of blanket permissions accorded by the Urban Division of the Karnataka Forest Department. Reasons for felling have commonly included widening of roads, infrastructure development and layout formation. However, it has been widely noticed that felling has been carried on more with vengeance against trees, than based on carefully assessed need. In fact there has been hardly any public involvement or consultation to ascertain the need for tree felling on such a massive scale, and never any significant attempt to plant saplings. The environmental consequences have been significant indeed.

As the Hon’ble Court has observed with concern, about 20,000 trees have been felled for the expansion of the Bangalore-Mysore highway alone. But there is really no count of the thousands more that BDA has felled in the formation of various residential layouts all around Bangalore. In most cases these trees were several decades old, in some cases over a century, and formed an enchanting part of the city’s heritage and landscapes. Trees that could have been left standing without any impact on ongoing work or future “development” has often been unnecessarily felled, resulting in barren landscapes, massive soil erosion and needless runoff of rainwater.

In two recent instances, ESG has initiated action against the Horticulture Department of the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike for felling trees on 4th Main Road (“Nanda Theatre Road”) of Jayanagar and opposite West Gate of Lalbagh on Vani Vilas Road. It was noticed that reasons for felling these trees were not legitimate, that BMP officials had no authority to order such felling and private contractors were beneficiaries in both instances. It is likely that such vandalism is taking place in many parts of the city.


To prevent further vandalism and unnecessary tree felling, and to encourage progressive citizen engagement for protecting Bangalore’s Trees, ESG has set up a HELPLINE @ Telephone 6534364 (Contact Person: Deepa).

We request anyone who witnesses such vandalism in the Bangalore Urban Region to call 6534364 and provide necessary details. ESG would periodically gather this evidence and follow up with the Karnataka Forest Dept. for necessary action.

Leo F. Saldanha Deepashree
Environment Support Group ®
S-3, Rajashree Apartments, 18/57, 1st Main Road, S. R. K. Gardens, Jayanagar,
Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore 560041. INDIA Telefax: 91-80-6341977/6534364
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