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112 trees on Jayamahal Road to face the axe

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Bengaluru: Even as hearing and arguments continue before the National Green Tribunal over felling of 812 trees for the controversial steel flyover project, the BBMP has called for public objections to fell 112 trees for widening of Jayamahal Main Road. The widening project stretches from Mekhri Circle to Bangalore Cantonment Railway Station.

The Tree Officer and Assistant Conservator of Forests, in a public notice on February 7, stated that the BBMP chief engineer (road infrastructure) has requested for permission to axe 112 trees of different species existing by the side of the Palace Ground compound.

The ACF has claimed that during a spot inspection, they found that the removal of these trees was very necessary. As per Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, calling for public objections is mandatory when more than 50 trees are being felled for any project.

The Tree Officer stated that public objection should be filed within 10 days, that is February 17, with necessary documents and valid reasons to email: acfbbmp@yahoo.co.in and phone no: 9480685381.

Independent assessment

An independent environment assessment report debunks the state government’s claims of felling 812 trees and states that 2,244 trees of different species will be axed for the steel flyover and widening of Jayamahal Main Road.

The report, presented by Prof HariniNagendra and SeemaMundoli of AzimPremji University, and Vijay Nishant of Project Vruksha, outlines that the findings are a result of a tree census conducted between October 2016 and January 2017. The number of trees and species to be felled is higher than the government claims or estimates.

The findings mapped 205 saplings from 71 species and 26 families that will also be cut for the projects.  Cutting of trees will have a huge impact on biodiversity, air pollution and temperatures in the area, the researchers pointed out.

Plantation exercise poor

The findings conclude that previous experience of compensatory plantation by the government in Bengaluru has not evoked any confidence. It takes years for a tree to mature and provide similar ecological and environmental benefits. The survival rate of saplings planted is pretty poor in urban context. North Bengaluru gas the last remaining green spots in the city and thanks to wooded areas of Ballari Road and Jayamahal, the pollution and heat island impacts are minimized.

But if this massive felling exercise is taken up, the city will face severe crisis in the days to come, researchers say.

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