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Tree Felling in Kanataka is governed by the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, 1976. Section 8 (1) of the act states:
With effect on and from the appointed day, notwithstanding any custom, usage, contract or law for the time being in force, no person shall fell any tree or cause any tree to be felled in any land, whether in his ownership or occupancy or otherwise, except with the previous permission of the Tree Officer
Thus, whether the tree is in private land or government land, the permission of the Tree Officer is essential before a tree is cut.
On what grounds can a tree be cut?
The Act says that permission to cut a tree cannot be refused if the tree –
(i) is dead, diseased or wind-fallen; or
(ii) has silviculturally matured; or
(iii) constitutes a danger to life or property; or
(iv) constitutes obstruction to traffic; or
(v) is substantially damaged or destroyed by fire, lightning, rain or other natural causes
Steps to be taken when you see a tree being cut
1) Approach the people cutting the tree and see if they have permission to cut the tree. The permission should be from the Tree Officer, BBMP with the seal of the BBMP and the signature of the Tree Officer.
If permission has not been granted
1) Ask the people cutting the tree to stop immediately. Tell them that it is illegal to cut a tree without permission and that it constitutes a criminal offence.
If the tree cutting does not stop do the following –
a) Immediately call the Tree Officers office.
For BBMP limits, we have two Tree Officers:
Tree officer North: Covers the following zones – Dasarahalli , East Zone, Mahadevpura, Bytarayanapura
080-22485317, 94806 83127, 94806 83013
Address: 2nd floor, BBMP South Zonal Office,2nd Block, 9th cross Jayanagar, BBMP, Bangalore-560011,
Tree officer South: Covers the following zones – South, West, Bomannahalli, Raja Rajeshwari Nagar,
080-2657 8423, 94806 83842, 9480684641
Address: Public Utility Building, 17th Floor, M.G. Road, Bangalore-560 001.
Inform the Tree Officers Office of what is happening, mention the exact address and the tree being cut. Ask them to send their staff immediately.
b) Inform the local police station that a tree is being cut without permission, and that since it is a criminal offence under the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, the police should immediately act on the same.
If you are not able to reach the Tree Officer or the Police station, call the BBMP Control Room – 080-22221188 / 080-22975595 / 080-22225657 and Inform them of the same. Also all your local corporator and inform her/him of the same and request action
Take a photo and or/video of the same and send it any media people you know. Also submit a complaint to the Tree Officer’s office at the earliest and take an acknowledgment of the complaint.
If permission has been granted
If you feel the permission has been granted improperly (see above for valid grounds to cut a tree), then immediately call the following office:
Chief Conservator of Forests (BBMP) – 080-22975707 and mention the same to them. Ask them to take action immediately and cancel the permission.
If the above does not work, you inform the media and share with them photographs and /or video of the tree cutting.
Also pursue the matter to by filing an appeal against the permission, by filing an appeal with the Tree Authority, BBMP, by giving a letter to the BBMP Commissioner and /or Mayor, who are to chair the authority, marking the copy to the CCF and to the Tree Officer.
While nothing can fully compensate the felling of a full grown tree, the least that can be done is to follow the law in terms of compensatory planning.
The Tree Preservation act says –
Where permission to fell a tree is granted, the Tree Officer may grant it subject to the condition that the applicant shall plant another tree or trees of the same or any other suitable species on the same site or other suitable place within thirty days from the date the tree is felled or within such extended time as the Tree Officer may allow.
If you know of a place where permission was legally and rightly granted for felling a tree, please ensure the above is taken care of.
What is to be done to preserve, maintain and re-generate trees?
- Avoid using cars and two-wheelers as much as possible. Road-wideining, Metro and other transport projects which aim to reduce traffic congestion are the top reasons for tree-felling in Bangalore
- Plant trees on all street-sides in Bangalore!
- Plant trees appropriately – For example It does not make sense to plant a rain tree in a narrow road.