Meeting called by Bangalore Metro, and called off by citizens’ demand

Environment Support Group (ESG) made this report about the meeting called by BBMP officials regarding tree-felling in Reach 2 of the Bangalore Metro Project. That link gives the entire details of what trasnpired in the meeting, and the background to it. The Public Meeting was called by the Tree Officer in compliance with the direction of the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka in WP No. 7288/2011, wherein public involvement in such decisions has been made mandatory.

Meeting in Malleswaram. Pic: Deepa Mohan

Bangalore Metro could not demonstrate how it has complied with the directions in WP 7288/2011, wherein it is specifically required that all afforestation activities undertaken for the damage done to trees under Phase I of the project is demonstrated. This ought to be done by providing accurate details, including exact location of saplings, their survival, and ability to independently verify the success of afforestation and also sharing publicly the accounts and reports of these efforts.

At the Public Hearing today, Bangalore Metro officials could produce no such information. Without this, the meeting itself was in contempt of court.

A point of order was also raised that Mr Pushkar could not officiate the Meeting as he is now a BBMP official, and thus an officer of an applicant agency. This would violate the direction issued by the Hon’ble High Court in WP 7288/2011, wherein it was highlighted that it would “…amount to a person being a judge in his own cause, which is anathema in law…”

Mr Leo Saldanha of ESG speaking to the press. Pic: Deepa Mohan 

Mr Pushkar admitted to this infirmity in procedure and advised the Tree Officer Mr Ranganathaswamy to call for a new Public Hearing on the matter only when Bangalore Metro had demonstrated compliance with the aforementioned directions of the High Court of Karnataka and had also prepared comprehensive environmental impact assessment reports. 

It was also confirmed that, henceforth, Public Hearings would be called within the Impact Zones and not 25 km away, as was the case with the cancelled Hearing today. When the office is in Jayanagar, and the trees being discussed arein south Bangalore, why have the meeting in Malleswaram, at 3 pm on a working day, putting the general public to great inconvenience to get to the venue?

This is the image most of us associate with “development” in our city today. Pic: Deepa Mohan

Deepa Mohan
About Deepa Mohan 715 Articles

Deepa Mohan is a freelance writer and avid naturalist.

7 Comments

  1. The idea is to move forward…responsibly! Citizens want the Metro,
    actually, faster than the Metro is providing it 😀

  2. Actually that is exactly the reason I mentioned Nanda road..that the interests of environmentalists, citizen groups and the metro can all go together and result in a beautiful whole. I certainly appreciate the citizen activists who made that happen.

    I am also against felling trees for frivolous reasons..such as dumping waste. But this is a different reason where a functioning metro can actually take thousands of polluting vehicles off the road..

    We were part of the original women’s group who marched up and down Bangalore streets and stood by the roadside for over a month in 2000 as a part of the ‘save Cubbon park’ movement. I have been part of (tree) confrontations before both as an individual and in a group. I am not mouthing the pro development anti environment argument here. I speak from my learning from participation in these movements. Every such movement brings incremental results, not dramatic ones. We are yet a young democracy and our people, whether it is the citizens or the government have not yet matured in participatory practices. That is why I say there is a need to negotiate rather than confront at this present time so that we can bring about results a la Nanda road rather than a stalemate

    Wouldn’t the Metro have also learnt from the Nanda road movement etc and might be more careful with their chopping and culling as compared to before?

    Thank you for providing a space to debate 🙂

    Usha

  3. Very ironic that you should cite the example where concerned citizen groups have saved trees (about 30% of the original trees only had to be felled) to further your argument! If the Metro had its way, about 40 more trees inside the Lalbagh wall, and about 100 trees on RV Road (Nanda Road) would have gone…needlessly.

  4. I think you are missing the point. We are not against the Metro and we want it. What we do not want: NEEDLESS cutting of trees (do you know that 40 trees were cut near Lalbagh, not for the Metro, but just for a place to dump waste? That is a total waste area now.) Yes, some trees will have to be cut, but not wholesale felling, with NO information given to the public. You mentioned R V Road. It was the intervention of concerned citizens that sharply brought down the number of trees that were felled on that road. So the point is not that trees need to be felled, but how we can get the Metro going with as few felled trees as possible. Metro has not given the citizens any information and is going ahead pell-mell and in an illegal fashipn. That is what we are against. We protest against the idea that trees should be felled whether or not they need to be? Metro’s incompetency, and corruption has resulted in a huge cost overrun, and they are trying to use that to justify “quick” action..viz, felling of all trees in the general area, without any consideration, for Reach 2. I’m sorry, I cannot agree to that kind of thinking. We already see the damage from Reach 1, which has neither been accounted for, nor complensated in the least degree.

  5. Nanda road metro looks so beautiful..better than many I the world.. imagine riding through all that greenery..trimming branches, replanting along the route of the metro..other options?

  6. Deepa, aren’t we missing the woods for the trees? 🙂 if metro takes off quickly, can it not take off thousands of vehicles off Bangalore roads, reduce pollution and improve the environment?I know it is not ‘cool’ to say this. I

    I use ‘metros’ the world over preferring shared transport to taxis. It is so convenient even for a senior citizen like me. Should we not weigh one against the other?

    5 years ago my neighbour cut four trees (that I had planted) . I confronted them. Complained to the forest department. Trees got cut anyway. But 5 years later, I can see that the honge trees the neighbour planted in their place (vastu led to the original massacre) have grown beautifully. 5 years from now they will be as big as the original trees, this makes me think that perhaps trees can be replaced and quickly too

    I think the need here is for negotiation, not confrontation..every meeting that I read about on trees seems to end in confrontation and stalemate.,,negotiate, supervise tree replanting might be the way to go. If trees are cut randomly, say because it obstructs a show room, I would be the first to protest. But if trees need to be cut to provide shared transport in a big city choking with traffic, trees that can be replanted, maybe we need a rethink?

    Usha

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