386 planted trees and 66 naturally grown trees to be chopped for district complex building ?

1:42 PM, Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

DC complexMangaluru : The survival of 386 trees on 5.89 acres of land belonging to the Forest Department proposed for the District Office complex depends on the opinions of the district and divisional level deemed forest committees.

The district and divisional level deemed forest committees are looking into the nature of the land following a direction from the Chennai Bench of the National Green Tribunal on January 28 passed in a petition by advocate Suma Nayak challenging the felling of 478 trees on the land proposed for the complex.

The tribunal had directed the State government to first decide whether the proposed land was deemed forest and then consider the application for tree felling.

The District Deemed Forest Committee, headed by Deputy Commissioner A.B. Ibrahim, held a meeting here on Tuesday. Deputy Conservator of Forests Hanumantappa, who is a member of the committee, and Ms. Suma Nayak, the petitioner before the tribunal, attended the meeting.

Mr. Ibrahim said that the proposed land does not figure in the list of deemed forest released in 2002. It was also not notified as forest so far. The 5.89 acres of land proposed for the district complex had remained in revenue records as industries land allotted to the Karnataka Forest Industries Development Corporation.

Mr. Hanumantappa said that a survey of land was carried out by revenue and forest officials on February 5 this year wherein they found 386 trees, 12 coconut trees and eight bamboo shrubs.

Of the 386 trees, only 66 were naturally grown trees while the rest are Sangwani, Teak, Casuarina, Acacia and other exotic species that have been planted, Mr. Hanumantappa said. The mere presence of good trees of exotic species cannot make a land a deemed forest.

Contesting the claims made by Mr. Hanumantappa, Ms. Nayak and activist Dinesh Pai said that the survey personnel had ignored the presence of more than 150 trees on the premises. Ms. Nayak said that she has not been given a copy of the survey report that would have enabled her to file detailed objections.

While asking Mr. Hanumantappa to provide the copy of the survey report, Mr. Ibrahim told Ms. Nayak to submit her objections by Thursday morning. Mr. Ibrahim said that they will be submitting a report to the Divisional Committee headed by Regional Commissioner by Thursday evening.

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