Leave Them Trees Alone
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Trees are under constant, ongoing and dire threat ;the very reason we were called the Garden City is being destroyed as is #MyRightToBreathe. The proposed (& thankfully withdrawn on 21/2/18) amendment to The Karnataka Tree Preservation Act of 1966 (KTPA) tabled on 09/02/ allowing a further 25 tree species to be freely cut without consultation, is a clear testimony to this. Policy & process are indifferently shrugged away ostensibly in the interests of development. The KTPA been tweaked & changed beyond recognition. Government agencies are some of the biggest transgressors. Citizens are beleaguered & confused. This kind of constant reactivenness has to stop. Citizens are intelligent, as is our government. Why then have we not formed a more inclusive , green policy in our state , instead of constant battles to save the green AND ourselves? Perhaps it is time to apply ourselves, sit closer across the table and discuss this more collaboratively.
Our respectful requests to State Government of Karnataka are therefore:
- While we collectively apply ourselves, all tree cutting/green destruction must unilaterally cease until the Revised Master Plan 2031 is holistically actioned & passed, Otherwise its a waste of time for all, with individual cases & back & forth, including our venerable lawmakers & bureaucrats. Government organisations must first follow the Tree Act in both letter and spirit.
- We need understanding the basis for the decision taken under the KTPA that cutting under 50 trees needs no public consultation considering this goes against the grain of the 1976 Tree Act. Given the denuding of our city , green cover, this tranche of trees being cut could result in extreme damage for the community , children and fauna , given the rise in temperature, pollution and illness. As citizens can we be given some transparency into this arbitrary number by Aranya , Forest Dept?
- Rationale for the 2015 Amendment inclusion of the first 25 tree species exempted from tree cutting permission in KTPA. While there would definitely be solid reasons for the same, democratically sharing this with concerned citizens would get a lot more support and understanding in the future. While the mango tree was later withdrawn from this list, it still has Burma Bamboo, Guava, Sapota , Silver Oak which are prolific & needed.
- Create better systems & accountability. Expedite overdue, properly structured Tree Committee promised by state government in 1998 and ensure it is transparently assembled. The Tree Authority can co-opt up to 3 external members well versed in tree preservation & is expected to meet once in 3 months - whereas there has been NO meetings for over a year. The critical tree census is also very slow. In addition, neither the penalties for non compliance of the KTPA Act (including Section 9 replanting/regeneration ), nor the facility to adopt trees mentioned in Section 10 of the have been showcased at all. So many punishable crimes against trees, and yet NOT ONE penalty implemented? In addition, the BBMP surprisingly choses to be extremely citizen friendly on tree cutting, even allowing for online permissions http://bbmp.gov.in/en/web/guest/howtoapplytreecutting . The BBMP tree cutting form does not even ask if alternative to tree cutting has been explored, only the reason!
- Policy should be tweaked differently for city & villages/farmlands as both have different realities and constraints. A standard one size fits all policy if extrapolated from a farming perspective may not work with Bangalore or Mysore - and vice versa..For example changed Subsection 6 in 2014 Amendment to the KTPA has no relevance to a city dwelling family and can be misused : "(6) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-sections (1) to (5), but subject to such conditions and restrictions as may be prescribed, for bonafide use of a family, one or more members of such family may, in the aggregate fell, in a calendar year, such number of trees as would fetch not more than 2.8 cubic meters of timber, 100 poles, 100 bamboo and 5 tons of firewood."
#MyRightToBreathe :We hope that the concerned government departments will respond and action our respectful submissions so citizens are better informed & will be more empowered to work together with our citizen-centric state government towards our beloved, greener Karnataka
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