Saturday, April 25, 2009

Online tree campaign takes deep roots in city

row over metro Online tree campaign takes deep roots in city

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Trees matter toBengalureans. In just one day over 1,500 residents of the city signed the online petition posted by a network of NGOs protesting against felling of trees in Lalbagh and Lakshamrao Boulevard to make way for a Metro Rail station.
Hasiru Usiru, a network of NGOs which has prepared the online petition to the chief minister, tore into the justifications offered by the Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) for cutting trees in Lalbagh and the boulevard at a press conference on Friday, and demanded that work on the Metro station be stopped immediately in the area to save the trees. “Although transport minister R. Ashok directed the BMRCL to stop work till the Lok Sabha polls were completed, the authorities have brazenly continued with it,” the volunteers said, adding, “People are very concerned as our online petition — etition/savelalbaghfrommetro/index.html, which has been flooded with signatories.” Leo F. Saldanha, coordinator, Hasiru Usiru alleged that the alignment of the Metro, in particular the extension of the southern reach to Kanakapura Road, had ignored the Karnataka Town and Country Planning (KTCP) Act, and various other related legislations.

“There is no provision to exempt Metro from the reach of these legislations,” he underlined.

“The KTCP Act requires public consultation by a statutory process, but this has not been done. Merely meeting some people in a few clubs and residents’ associations, as Metro officials claim to have done, does not mean the statutory public consultation process has been followed as defined in law,” said Vinay Sreenivasa, a volunteer.

While the members of the NGO agreed that eucalyptus trees could be cut even without the permission of the tree officer under the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act they maintained this exemption did not apply inside a declared botanical garden like the Lalbagh which is protected by a special Act that gives it the sanctity of a national park.

“Also contrary to claims by Dr Ramachandran, chairman of BMRCL and the secretary, Union ministry of urban development that a zig-zag alignment for the Metro is not feasible in its southern reach, the Metro has followed a zig zag alignment with four 90°turns over about 4 km on this stretch,” they said.


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