Thursday, April 27, 2006

Trees hacked to show up hoardings

Trees hacked to show up hoardings
BMP Says It’s Unaware Of Illegal Chopping On Airport Road
The Times of India

Bangalore: With nearly 11,000 vehicles an hour, it’s not surprising that Airport Road is responsible for 75 per cent of revenue generated from the city’s commercial hoardings. That’s enough moolah for the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) to feign a snore while trees are illegally hacked to make way for more glittering billboards. This, while Bangalore is on the verge of becoming a ‘hoarding-free’ city.

In the past three months alone, around 40 trees have been illegally cut and 12 pruned to ensure better visibility of hoardings along this road. And the officials have no clue about it.

“Forty trees have been cut? When?’’ This was BMP deputy conservator of forest Krishna Udapudi’s reaction when The Times of India questioned him about the cutting.

The phenomenon, however, is not new for the residents, who have been witnessing it for the past one year. Trees are usually cut over a period so that its disappearance is not stark. “Trees being cut for development work like road widening, building a flyover or a highway is still understandable, but why cut them to highlight hoardings?’’ asked Prashant S Reddy, an environment activist and a resident of the area.

Hasire Usiru, an NGO, which works for the preservation of greenery in the city, has even filed a written complaint with the BMP officials, over the issue of trees being cut. The officials have accepted the validity of the complaint, but have not been able to book any culprit simply because “they are not sure who the culprits are!’’ said Hasire Usiru member Rohan D’souza, who is following up the matter with the BMP.

“The trees which have been cut or pruned in the area have been done illegally, they never sought permission from my department. But saying that we are not doing anything would also not be true. Licences for hoardings along the medians in Airport Road, Bellary Road, and Palace Road have been cancelled. We have also asked the area horticulture officer, along with a team, to start night vigilance. They are authorised to cancel the hoarding licence if the advertisers are caught pruning or cutting trees,’’ said Udapudi.

So how does one get a licence to put up a hoarding near trees? “Permission for hoardings is given strictly in those locations where there are no trees. But soon after they get the permission, the advertisers change their location,’’ BMP officials say.

Of the Rs 2.5 crore revenue generated every year from commercial hoardings by BMP, around Rs 1.9 crore comes from East zone. Airport road is a prominent location with 150 hoardings on either side along with median billboards that generate Rs 68 lakh annually.


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