Hassan: District Wildlife Warden H. P. Mohan said that if the Forest Department and the local administration continue to neglect the prevent of cutting trees in the City, a fight will be launched against it.
Speaking at a press conference here, he said that hundreds of trees have already been cut down in the wake of road expansion and construction of a concrete road in Hassan City, which will have an adverse impact on the environment in the coming days. He said that the Forest Department should give serious thought to this and protect the trees.
“Earlier, a tree committee existed in the City and the Committee was informed about the felling of any trees. The members went to the spot, inspected the tree and submitted a report to the Forest Department on whether it is needed to be cut down or not, then further steps were taken through the Forest Department itself. However now the scenario has been changed overnight the trees were being cut down in the City and the negligence of the Forest Department and the local administration was highlighted,” he said .
Speaking on the occasion, Environmentalist Kishore Kumar said that the citizens of the City have also forgotten the need for trees and are cutting trees using bribes and influence on flimsy pretexts such as falling leaves, birds sitting, and building disappearing. “There is no objection to trimming the branches of dangerous trees like hollow, dry, falling. Also, such trees can be cut down, if required but the cutting down of healthy and non-aged trees has caused immense pain to the environmentalists, and the conscious citizens,” he said.
To cut down any tree, it is necessary to file an application under the Karnataka Reservation of Trees Act, 1976, but this rule is being flouted here.
He alleged that even the local representatives were not raising their voice on the issue.
The number of forest fires in the District is on the rise and already there have been forest fires in Moorkannu Gudda, Vanagur Betta, Shiradi Ghat Forest, and Tirupati Halli Hills in Sakaleshapura Taluk, all of which are not natural forest fires but are caused by human beings. A case has been registered under the IPC Forest Conservation Act and the Wildlife Protection Act and a criminal investigation should be conducted and the culprits should be punished.
There is a shortage of staff to work in the Forest Department and modern arrangements should be made to control forest fires and proper equipment should be provided to the Forest Guards and the Government should take immediate steps to provide necessary facilities like helicopters, binoculars, drones to the forest-dominated Districts of Chikkamagaluru, Hassan and Kodagu.
He also demanded strict directions to homestay and resort owners to ban them from carrying out trekking and other activities from February to May.
Senior journalist R. P. Venkateshamurthy said that the development of the city is important and it is not right to cut trees indiscriminately for which the local MLAs should pay attentio, just road-making is not development and environmental protection is essential. If the health of the city dwellers is to be good, it is very important to have grounds, parks, lakes and roadside trees, he added.
He also appealed to the people to call Wildfire emergency telephone number 1926 issued by the Forest Department in case of any incident of fire or other fire incidents in the forest areas.