Submitted by alvin on Mon, 2016-10-03 09:19 Bengaluru: BBMP officials have rejected environment activists’ contention that there was nexus between BBMP engineers and a timber mafia, which had led to the uprooting many trees in Jayanagar, ostensibly to facilitate the TenderSure Road project in the locality. A Few days ago, the activists alleged that BBMP officials approved tree felling in the guise of road widening and duct laying for TenderSure project, at the behest of a timber mafia. Ranganath Swamy, Assistant Conservator of Forest, BBMP, dismissed the allegations. "The TenderSURE project is taken up is for 2.5km from Puttenahalli underpass to Cool Joint in Jayanagar 4th block. About 21 trees were identified on Jayanagar 11th Main Road in 5th block, but we dropped that idea and felled only seven trees. There was hue and cry by activists. These seven trees were old and most of them were rain trees that would uproot anytime." He further said that a notification was issued in newspapers about felling the trees. People who were interested in bidding came forward and the highest bidder was awarded the contract. "There is absolute transparency in this and there is no timber mafia as alleged. We auctioned the seven felled trees for Rs 80,000. How can one think that there is mafia in it?" he wanted to know. To a question on option of 'tree transplantation ( that is to cut the branches, reduce the size, taking out the tree without effecting much to its roots the tree will be placed in other area and soil will be filled around the roots), he said the trees were old and it would not have been possible for transplanting them as most were rain trees. "Once the project is completed, the BBMP forest wing would ensure that two tree saplings will be planted in a place where a tree is being felled. Saplings of 5 to 8 feet height will be planted at a distance of 20 feet from each tree that was felled." Agreeing with Ranganath Swamy, Appu Rao, Deputy Conservator of Forest, BBMP said:"The BBMP has time and again faced the same situation with regard to tree cutting. When a tree is uprooted, the BBMP is blamed by public that such trees are not cut and when we take up tree cutting for project, activists raise objections." "Hence forth we will send all the requests before the tree committee to take a decision," he said. Meanwhile, Ehsaan Rasheed, BBMP appointed contractor for tree felling said said he bagged the contract a month ago. “Initially I paid the BBMP an amount of Rs 48,000 which includes tax. I am yet to pay Rs 32,000. Earlier, I was asked to chop down 21 trees in Jayanagar on 11th main road, but later the forest officials directed me to fell only seven trees." Trees that gave shade for jayangar pedestrians on 11th Main Road will be missed sorely. Nagarathna Murthy, Area corporator said said the engineers had been asked to work out plans to ensure that trees were not cut for TenderSURE project. “We have asked the forest officers and the company that is working on the project to plant only Millettia pinnata (Honge mara) as it keeps the area cool." However, her husband and former corporator C K Ramamurthy said, "Initially there was request for many trees to be cut, but after the inspections and meetings we have come to conclusion that Mayflower tree that are old and roots are damaged will be removed." Speaking to bfirst.in, tree activist Vijay Nishant said the contractor had chopped down healthy trees. “I examined the trees and none of them were old. A healthy Peepal tree, that was a landmark in Jayanagar, was also brought down. I don't understand why they chopped off the healthy trees to support project.” He was skeptical of BBMP’s plan to plant saplings. “Even though they plant saplings, there will be no space for the roots to spread out as they place many kinds of wires and ducts like OFC cables and others underground and water cannot enter or seep inside."