Translocating Trees: Bengaluru Citizens Protest Tree Cutting

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike will not cut 112 trees for road widening but will translocate some of them.

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Nearly 30,000 Bengaluru citizens objected to the cutting of trees for road widening purposes. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has had a change of heart as it is now considering translocating the trees along Jayamahal road, instead of going with the initial proposal of cutting 112 trees on the stretch for the purpose of widening the road.

The change in plan was a result of the Palike having received 30,000 objections to the cutting of trees, some of which are over 90 years old, on 11 February. The translocation work is said to begin by mid-May.

On 26 April, the Palike had said that only 42 trees would be translocated, while the remaining would be hacked.

Angered by BBMP’s decision, residents of Benson Town and members of Citizens For Bengaluru staged a silent protest on Jayamahal Road on Monday, asking the Palike to refrain from “killing the city’s tree cover”.

The Palike was to begin the road widening work on Monday. But said that the necessary permissions from the traffic police and the BBMP’s Road Infrastructure Wing are yet to come through.

Initially, the plan was to translocate five trees and see if the trees survive. After going through the plan of the proposed road, the trees will be placed along the roadside. Since the road will have to be closed during the work, we still have not got the dates confirmed. This can be done after the traffic police set a date and we must also procure the equipment necessary for the project. 
GR Vijay Kumar, Assistant Conservator of Forests (East), BBMP to The News Minute

Vijay Kumar said that a Surat-based organisation, Team Prayas Planet Us, has been roped in for translocating the five trees in the pilot phase.

However, Darshan, a member of Prayas, says they have not been in touch with the civic agencies in Bengaluru. It is the royal family that owns the land, that has been in touch with them, and are sponsoring the translocation of the trees located on their land. This land has been handed over to the civic authorities for the widening project.

As of now, our team has surveyed the trees, and it is definitely possible to translocate them. We have not surveyed all the 112 trees but if we are asked to do so, we will. We have had a good success rate and if the trees can be shifted, we can save them all.
Darshan, a member of Prayas to The News Minute

Countering the citizens’ claim that 70 trees would be chopped off, BBMP’s Executive Engineer for Road Infrastructure, Prahalad, said that after the objections received by the citizens, the Palike is looking into saving all the trees.

It is easy for people to demand that the trees be translocated, but it is not feasible for some trees, especially if they are old, they may die anyway. People are only bothered about the trees being cut but no one has paid attention to the fact that we will plant 800 trees along the same stretch once the road widening project is completed. 
Prahalad, BBMP’s Executive Engineer for Road Infrastructure to The News Minute
We have conducted the feasibility study and if we can translocate all of them, we will. People make us out to be tree killers. We don’t want to cut trees but we have also said that we will plant more than double the number we may cut

The BBMP officials are waiting for the results of the pilot project of tree translocation and said that the decision to chop the trees will be based on the success of the project.

(The piece has been published in arrangement with The News Minute)

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