Friday, April 23, 2010

Axe trees, says forest department

Axe trees, says forest department

Imran KhanFirst Published : 23 Apr 2010 05:00:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 23 Apr 2010 10:56:33 AM IST
BANGALORE: In what could lead to wide-spread and indiscriminate felling of trees, the state forest department has recommended an amendment to the Karnataka Trees Preservation Act of 1976.
The civic authorities in Bangalore especially have been crying hoarse for not being able to cut trees for “developmental” activities because of the Act.
According to the recomm ended amendment, one need not seek permission from the forest department before axing trees.
The Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, 1976, mandates that no person shall fell any tree or cause any tree to be felled in any land, whether it was in his ownership or otherwise, unless a permission was granted by the tree officer.
The proposed amendment, which grants permission of felling of 42 species of trees in the state, has been pending with the state government for almost four years. However, recently the state forest department gave a nod to it and the amendment is awaiting a final decision from the Cabinet.
“The permission is granted to the private lands and not for trees grown in the forest areas,” said a senior forest official, on condition of anonymity.
According to him, the proposed amendment was enacted to facilitate farmers who were finding it difficult to cut trees in their vicinity. They were so harassed that they had stopped growing trees, said the official.
“In order to ease the farmers’ difficulties, we had to liberalise it,” the official said.
This act will not only ease the farmers but will also help the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) to finish the trees of Bangalore, said Neginhal, a retired forest official. “In fact anyone can go and chop the trees,” he added.
He said, according to the amendment, even heritage trees like Aala, Arali, Athi, Basari and Goni can be cut.
Leo Saldanha of Environment Support Group said it was an outrageous proposal, coming as it does in the International Year of Biodiversity and on Earth Day.
“Neem, honge, tamarind, mango, jack, Ficus, etc. are some of the largest, oldest and most commonly found trees and constitute the true ecological heritage of the city. These trees also form critical habitat for a variety of birds, bees, butterflies,” he said.

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