High Court of Karnataka (HC) suggested that BBMP make payments for tree-planting contracts only after monitoring the survival rate of the seedlings for an year after planting, to ensure that the seedlings planted are protected and maintained.
In a suo motu PIL (WP No. 7288/2011) filed by former justice D V Justice Shylendra Kumar for mass tree felling in Jayamahal Palace road in 2011 for widening the road, BBMP Advocate Subramanya R informed the court that the afforestation tenders for this year have already been awarded.
Amicus curiae Vaishali Hegde pointed that the agreements that are already signed for this year have loopholes. The agreement has a clause that allows the payment for the work done as and when the bills are produced, she told the court.
In order to hold the contractors responsible for the plantation and maintenance of the seedlings, Bench comprising of Chief Justice D H Waghela and Justice H G Ramesh suggested BBMP to consider making payments only after a year after checking how many saplings have actually survived.
Since the contracts are already awarded, the necessary changes in the agreement can be made only in the future contracts. In the previous few hearings BBMP had made a submission to the court stating that in an urban setting, the mortality rate of seedlings is 10% per year for the first three years of the maintenance, for various reasons.
Contracts should be awarded for long term
Vaishali also highlighted that BBMP is spending crores of rupees for plantation of saplings but they fail to monitor and maintain them. She pointed that the duration of the tenders passed this year for the maintenance is only 8 to 9 months, with the last date for this year’s contract for maintenance ending on March 3, 2015. There is a need for maintaining the saplings for a long term, she reported.
‘Upload details on website’
In order to bring in more transparency, the court has asked the BBMP to provide the data related to the number of saplings planted, location, survival etc on their website. All the information should be easily made available for the public to monitor themselves, said the court. Advocate Subramanya informed the court that same has been listed in the action plan and will be done.
RFOs to be deputed to overcome shortcomings in staff
In the previous hearing, Vaishali Hegde had observed that the BBMP Forest Wing is highly understaffed. Following this, the BBMP advocate Subramanya R informed the court that BBMP Commissioner has requested the Karnataka State Government to depute three Rain Forest Officers to BBMP. Along with them, the Commissioner has also requested to depute 34 Deputy Rain Forest Officers to BBMP.
The hearing was adjourned to August 8, 2014.