The Forest Department and Mangalore City Corporation (MCC) officials may pose together for a photo op on ‘Vanamahotsava’ or ‘Greenathon’ occasions but there is no denying that the two government bodies have had issues in the past and continue to have so.
“In the last four years, i.e. from 2009 onwards, we have planted 42,500 saplings in various parts of the city. Almost 95% of them are surviving. The others get damaged. In some instances, the Mangalore City Corporation itself will be the guilty party”, says K Padmanabha Gowda, Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF), Mangalore.
The MCC authorities are alleged of chopping off the saplings planted by the Forest Department because they obstruct the view of the advertising hoardings which the MCC takes care of.
“From Pabbas to Lady Hill, we had planted saplings of Tabebuia Avellanedae and other trees but the MCC gets rid of them as they obstruct the advertising hoardings along that road. When we intimate the matter to them, they ask us to book cases against them but it does not serve the purpose”, says Mr. Gowda.
In spite of booking cases against the MCC in case of violations, the MCC gets away every time with the help of “influential people”, says Mr. Gowda.
However, speaking to Coastaldigest.com, Municipal Commissioner Dr. Harish Kumar, said that the saplings are planted in co-operation between Forest Department and the MCC.
“We provide them land for the saplings and they do the planting. It is a coordinated effort. We have told them to plant saplings on the roadside and wherever possible”, says Dr. Kumar.
The Forest Department officials on the other hand claim that with increased widening of roads and more interlock footpaths coming into picture, land availability has become an issue to plant saplings.
“Where is the space? Even the footpaths have been converted into interlock structures. Yes, the MCC has told us that we can plant saplings in between those interlock footpaths too but plants cannot sustain the heat produced by these hard structures and die off”, says a Forest Department official.
The MCC is carrying out concretization of road along the Nandigudda circle where it has uprooted a tree which is also in violation to the Forest Department norms. But the MCC defends its actions.
“It is the retaining wall cum concreting of the road project that we have undertaken at the road along the Nandigudda circle. The plan is to widen the road from Nandigudda to Marnamikatte for a distance of 90 metres and in future it will go further. The tree that has been uprooted while widening was a dead tree”, an official of MCC’s Executive Engineering section said.
The Forest Department officials however say that this move is also technically a violation of their norms. “Even if they are to uproot a dead tree, they have to obtain clearance from us. Without us being informed, no such step can be taken”, the Forest Department official says.
The MCC and Forest Department were at loggerheads with regard to cutting trees along the same Nandigudda-Valencia road back in 2009 too when the MCC had marked 45 trees for felling for concretization of the road without informing the Forest Department. Amidst opposition from residents of Valencia, the Forest Department had finally given permission to the MCC to cut five trees along the road.
Residents of the area however continue to have problems with the concrete road as the layers of concrete laid along the originally proposed median portion of the road, have broken up at several places. On a couple of spots along the road near the Valencia circle and in front of the new petrol bunk, the median portion of the road has been damaged badly causing problems to vehicle users.
The MCC officials however say that the patch up work of the median was done three months back and the damaged portion in the road would be repaired soon.