Sushil Kumar, a resident of Sadashivanagar, was in rage and almost up in arms when he saw a majestic Gulmohar tree being axed to make way for road widening in his neighbourhood. When he tried to stop the workers from converting the trunk to logs, he was told that orders were given from the higher ups in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). When he contacted BBMP Forest cell top brass, pat came the reply, “I am not the authority concerned. But I will look into the matter, please give me the details.”
He is not the only one. Sunita K, a resident of Magadi Road, was equally upset, when she saw a beautiful Tamarind and majestic Banyan tree chopped overnight for road widening. When she called up the official, she was told that he will call up the concerned officials and find out the reason.
Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF), BBMP Forest Cell, Brijesh Kumar gets at least five to six calls on an average everyday from aggrieved citizens.
“I am tired of explaining to people that I am not the right person for these queries. Most of the time I do not know why permission was given or denied to axe a tree. This does not come under me. However, I understand their worries. So I collect the information and pass it on to the concerned Tree Officer, who takes it up from there,” says Kumar.
If BBMP Forest Cell Chief Conservator of Forests is not the authority to explain and answer queries of people, then who is the one?
According to a Government of Karnataka notification dated June 11, 2008, there is a dedicated Tree Authority for BBMP which looks into the felling and pruning of trees. It is signed by then under secretary, Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment, Vadagave Basavaraj. This Authority has been constituted under Section- 3 of the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act- 1976.
The reason why Brijesh Kumar is not a part of the Tree Authority is because when it was formed, there was no post of CCF. The post was created in 2010. Now the BBMP has not taken any steps to revise the notification.
This comprises of BBMP Commissioner at the top, below him is the Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF), then comes the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) and then two Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF).
Explaining why he is unaware of the trees being axed or pruned, he says that the tree officer is the Assistant Conservator of Forests and above him is the Deputy Conservator of Forests. Giving or denying permission is based on the discretion of the ACF. “I have the authority to question them and the ACFs are answerable to me. But it takes time. By the time I contact the ACF and he verifies it with his team and replies to me and I contact the citizen back, it is too late. Thus people should contact the ACFs directly or the DCFs or the Tree Authority.”
Structure of Tree Authority
The chairman of the authority is the Mayor. The members are: BBMP Commissioner, BBMP Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), BBMP Joint Director of Horticulture and one elected member (corporator) of BBMP who has been nominated by the Mayor.
By contacting this Authority, citizens can know if a tree is being cut legally or illegally, and if it is illegal it can be stopped.
Whom to contact and where?
For immediate communication, there are two Assistant Conservator of Forests, who sign the order copy.
ACF (North): Venkat Reddy- 9480683083
ACF (South): Ranganath Swamy- 9480683842
Mayor: D Venkatesha Murthy- 22975501 or 9448053899
Commissioner: Laxmi Narayan- 22237455, 22221286 or 9880726761
Deputy Conservator of Forests: P P Chandrashekar- 22879060 or 9480683033
Joint Director (Horticulture): A Narayanaswamy – 22975535 or 9448484404, 9480683011
Today morning I noticed that some persons are cutting fully grown high trees at the back side of the HP Petrol Bunk in Sarjapur Road, next to WIPRO. I informed the matter over phone to Asst. Conservator of Forests (South) (94806 83842) Mr.Ranganath Swamy and requested to look into the incident (11.20.AM- 23rd Aug-2015).I got his number from your site.He said that he would send some officials to look into this.
I wish to state that I dont belong to this area/State. However, after seeing such huge demolition of Nature, happening nearby, I could not shut my eyes and go away. I will again update this matter here by today night, before my departure to my native place and to see how far the Government official takes action on this matter.
Mr. Manjunath of BBMP south forest cell (9480684849) after listening the complain of tree cutting is asking us to do a written complain in their office and come with photo proff.
instead of taking action to the tree cutter, they harassed by giving such idiotic info.
Called BBMP also for cutting trees.no actions. Very sad to see lukewarm response
there are some people cutting trees in Begur woods layout, complained forest officer but didnot get any response 9480684849
Was shocked to see the trees on the road, that lead to Judicial layout -all cut, and then we wonder why the summers are so hot, why there is climate change and why there is such insensitivity and callousness towards nature.
My blood is also boiling as I type this post , a fully grown tree which we had planted in our road has fallen victim to the cakewala and the related establishment here in Jayanagar T block . I must have called around 15 times to the number listed above as well as the concerned forest officer. There has been no action and the whole area is a mute witness, there are college going kids who just see the cutting and shrug their shoulders off … I tried to intervene and to be honest looking at the contractor and his henchmen its not easy to fight.
Another one bites the dust, I feel terrible at the helplessness of a average tax paying citizen of this city/country.
Is there some responsible officer who has the zeal to understand the pangs of citizens I wonder!!!!
Yes Vaidya, it should be ‘whom’ ! corrected. Thanks!
Well at least they planted trees. A neighbour near my place cut a tree down on the road and threatened his neighbour with consequences when he protested. Of course, there was a BBMP official right next door who turns a blind eye to everything.
There are two trees in front of my house, forming a nice arch. BESCOM came and ‘pruned’ one so badly they might have shown more mercy by just killing it. Not even birds perch on it now. Wonder if trees in Bangalore will evolve to lean to the side of the road to avoid BESCOM or overzealous constructors.
On an unrelated note, the title should say ‘Whom’!
In 2010, I complained to the tree officer as several trees on our road were being massacred by the neighbour as vastu non compliant. . It was stopped by a forest guard on that day. A few days later, when I came home, the trees had been cut dow and I was shown a photocopy of an unnumbered letter in Kannada that said four trees could be cut for ‘security’ reasons. It also mentioned that the person signing the letter was not authorized to allow the cutting of Ficus trees. Two of the trees that were cut down were Ficus benjaminica. And a total of six trees, young and old, had been cut. There was no forest guard or officer then or later to confirm that their orders had been followed. I could not help feeling that informing the tree officer of BBMP just added another layer of paper work and the complexities attendant with procuring such papers. Going by this experience, I cannot help being cynical about the seriousness of the intentions of BBMP with respect to stopping tree cutting. We need to increase awareness among people (who can fight vastu these days?), and be ready to follow up every step of the way; in this case that meant I would have had to stay home 24 hours to guard the trees:( Having said that, the neighbour planted 3 honges and a neem in the place of these trees as advised by his vastu consultant. The neem did not catch on, and the honges are growing well enough to reach the same height as the ones that had compromised his ‘safety’ earlier. I guess burglars don’t like to climb up honge trees 🙂 they only like ficuses and Indian corals.