I first met this majestic tree in 1982, which stood tall on Bannerghatta Road, just after Basavanapura. It’s been my buddy for 36 years. It was a big old tree back then and more so now. The land adjacent to it is our workplace, from my father’s time. This tree has seen me grow up, it has seen me come and go. It has weathered 100’s of monsoons and has sheltered many a dog, cow, goat, bird, bat and cat. When I arrive at this spot, I know I have come home.
This evening, at about 6:00 p.m., I drove back to my office, but the road was choked with traffic. I finally made it to the gate, only to see my buddy being cut down. I was chocked with emotion. The only thought in my mind was to stop the bleeding.
I met the tree butchers and quizzed them. No one was in charge. One guy, appeared to be the leader and I asked him for the permits to cut the tree. He had none. He told me that his boss, the BBMP contractor, Shekar, had the permits and that I should speak with him. I called Shekar, who stated that he had the permits and that he had given it to the Police and BESCOM. I called the Hulimavu Police station and they told me that they do not know about the tree cut. They asked me to contact the control room (100). I called them and explained the situation. They gave me the number of the Forest Officer In-Charge, Mahesh.
I called Mahesh and explained the matter. I asked him if permits were granted to cut the tree. He was not too sure and asked me send photographs via WhatsApp. He mentioned that some trees were being cut down for road widening. I told him that the tree was being cut in the middle of rush hour (6:00 – 6:30 p.m.) and that it was a serious safety issue. I specifically told him that it was crazy to fell a tree with hundreds of vehicles passing by – buses, lorries, vans, cars, scooters and bikes.
After I had spoken to the Police and the Forest Officer, the tree butchers had quickly gathered the debris on their bikes and vans and scooted away by 6:40 p.m. Why run, if they were following the Law?
I have many troubling questions regarding the maiming of my tree buddy.
- Has the BBMP issued a permit to cut this particular tree? If so, who authorized it?
- Has the BBMP carried out a honest environmental impact study on the trees to be felled for road widening on Bannerghatta Road?
- Assuming that the permit was granted, why did they have to butcher this tree during rush hour, endangering the public?
- Why was the Police not present to control the traffic and protect citizens from falling debris?
- Why did the tree butchers carry away the cut up portions on their personal bikes and vans?
The tree has a right to live. If it has to be chopped, in the name of city development, let the Government do it with responsibility. There should be an engineer in charge to explain it to the public and share the permits, while the butchering was done. It should be mandatory for the Government to post Police to safeguard the public from injury, while the tree was being cut. Common sense would dictate that the tree should not be cut, when a high density of vehicles were plying by.
If my tree buddy has to be butchered, in the name of development, let it be done with due process, with dignity and within the framework of the Law. I still hope that I can do something, so that what is left of it can live. Maybe if the tree lovers of Bangalore and the World voice their opinion, it would live to see another day. Good night my lovely tree. I know that you are crying and I cry with you tonight.