Karnataka High Court issues notice to State, Centre over cutting of 8,000 trees

Karnataka High Court issues notice to State, Centre over cutting of 8,000 trees
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Karnataka High Court issues notice to State, Centre over cutting of 8,000 trees

Highlights

the Karnataka High Court has issued notices to Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL), Karnataka Forest Department and Union Ministry of Forests, Environment and Climate Change

Bengaluru: the Karnataka High Court has issued notices to Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL), Karnataka Forest Department and Union Ministry of Forests, Environment and Climate Change, asking them to respond by February 24 to a petition filed by the concerned citizens of Bengaluru who challenged felling of 8,651 trees 155.21- km 'Bengauru Surrounding Road' project. The activists in their petition filed a year ago termed the project "illegal".

According to the reports, the projects include widening of 15-km stretch from Nelamangala to Madhure; 23-km stretch from Madhure to Devanahalli; 33-km stretch from Bidadi to Jigani; Bannerghatta to Anekal; and the 39-km stretch from Anekal to Hoskote. Several protests have been held against these projects. In some of these stretches, trees have already been felled.

In recent days, Jhatkaa.Org, Mrs Rajani Santosh and Voice of Sarjapura collectively met the officials of KRDCL and submitted a written representation requesting them to reconsider the project and demanded project related information such as EIA, DPR, Cost Benefit Analysis, etc.

A citizen campaign to raise awareness and increase transparency about this environmentally hazardous projects has been launched. Despite this, KRDCL started construction of the project by felling a large numbers of heritage trees, amidst the pandemic and lockdown without addressing any of the concerns raised by the citizens about this project.

Even after a year of repeated protests, engagement with the officials of KRDCL, representations, RTI applications seeking project related information, KRDCL has not paid any heed to the impact of the project. The activists decided to file a PIL before High Court to highlight the environmental and legal issues related to the road project.

The petition contended that 14 freshwater lakes of Bengaluru and its surroundings will be affected due to these projects. Besides this, a part of the project passes through the Bannerghatta National Park, as well as the Eco Sensitive Zone around the Bannerghatta National Park.

This will have an adverse impact on the natural habitats of several schedule 1 species of fauna such as Elephants, Tigers, Leopards and Slender Loris all listed under the Wildlife (Protected) Act 1972,". The next date of hearing is February 24.

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