RTI reveals that Samanvay and Greening Committees “not in existence” since 2014

No feasibility studies conducted on the proposed axing of 112 trees on Jayamahal Road

Bengaluru, April 20, 2017 RTI queries filed by Jhatkaa.org have revealed that the two tier committees created by BBMP for monitoring the greening of the city, namely the Greening Committee for Bengaluru North and South and Co-ordination/Samnvay committee, have not been in existence from 2014.

The BBMP had placed the information on formation of these committees for monitoring the greening of Bengaluru city on record in 2014 to assure the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka. The Hon’ble High Court had taken suo moto cognisance of Justice D V Shylendra Kumar’s letter on the said matter and took it up as a writ petition on its file, giving its judgement on August 7, 2014.[1]

Moreover, the RTI responses also show that no feasibility studies of any kind have been conducted on the proposed axing of 112 trees on Jayamahal Road. Even though 30,000 objections have been filed against the proposed tree felling on Jayamahal Road, BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad had prematurely and recklessly stated in the media that there is no other choice but to axe 70 trees and translocate 45 trees. The BBMP has also admitted that it has no prior experience with transplanting since RTI response reveals that no transplanting has been undertaken by the BBMP till date. 

“The RTI responses shockingly reveal BBMP’s lackadaisical and arbitrary approach to the issue of tree felling. They have categorically stated that there was no other choice. But how do they know they do not have a choice without conducting any traffic research, feasibility surveys or scientific studies to come up with alternative proposals? We fail to understand the lack of application of mind with regards to axing of trees by BBMP,” said Avijit Michael, Executive Director, Jhatkaa.org.

Last year, Jhatkaa.org was invited to be part of the North Zone Tree Committee by Appu Rao, Dy. Conservator of Forests. However the RTI responses indicate that this committee is non-existent.

“It has become amply clear that due processes which have been laid out to ensure preservation of Bengaluru’s Green Heritage are not being followed at all! The BBMP, it seems, wants to mislead Bangaloreans and civil society groups, and rob them of their participation and oversight on this issue,” added Avijit Michael, “We demand that BBMP conduct a thorough scientific study on feasibility before axing or transplanting any trees on Jayamahal Road and on any other road works planned in the city. The BBMP should also constitute the two tier Tree Committee at the earliest, ensuring that it is a truly representative body comprising of experts and civil society members.”

The Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka, in its judgement on August 7, 2014 had directed that felling of trees would be considered as an exception rather than a rule, and only after the Tree Officer and Tree Authority have fully explored and certified that all alternatives have been considered regarding the feasibility of the felling of trees. The Hon’ble High Court had further directed that if any objections are received from the public, due consideration will be given by assigning reasons. The Tree Officer and Tree Authority will also consider the feasibility of transplantation of trees rather than felling the same. The Hon’ble High Court also reserved liberty to aggrieved parties to initiate fresh proceedings in case of irregularities or violation of the provisions of the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, 1976 and the undertakings given on behalf of the BBMP.

About Jhatkaa.org:

Jhatkaa.org is a campaigning organisation committed to building grassroots citizen power across India in effective and innovative ways. Jhatkaa.org helps people take action collectively on issues that interest or affect them, and create change that would not be possible if they acted alone.

Jhatkaa.org also collaborates with civil society to engage citizens to hold corporate, cultural and government leaders accountable in real time at key decision moments through various digital communication platforms. Read more about Jhatkaa.org’s victories and press hits.

For more information, please contact:

Avijit Michael; +91 99021 48975; avijit@jhatkaa.org

Arpana Udupa; +91 9535152000; arpana@jhatkaa.org 

References-

[1] Order of Honourable High Court of Karnataka on August 7, 2014 on Writ Petition no 7288/2011(LB-BMP-PIL)- http://bit.ly/2pf5FqZ 

[2] Nomination of Jhatkaa.org into North Zone Tree Commitee- http://bit.ly/2ojfBfa 

Link to Right to Information responses-

  1. Feasibility Studies on Jayamahal Road - http://bit.ly/2oY76JF 
  2. Greening of Bangalore by BBMP - http://bit.ly/2pUQyzd 
  3. North Zone Tree Committee - http://bit.ly/2pFJZBA 
  4. Samanvay and Greening Committees - http://bit.ly/2pFAn9M 
  5. Transplantation of Trees - http://bit.ly/2oOmKqi 
  6. Functioning of Tree Authority Doc 1 (Translation) - http://bit.ly/2piziaY, (Original) - http://bit.ly/2oudggz 
  7. Functioning of Tree Authority Doc 2  (Translation) - http://bit.ly/2oYgcWv, (Original)- http://bit.ly/2piIIn3