Updated: June 21, 2021 10:12:26 pm
Environmental activist Greta Thunberg-backed Fridays For Future (FFF) has launched an online campaign against the proposed cutting down of 6,316 trees on the outskirts of Bengaluru to rejuvenate the Singanayakanahalli lake as a part of the Hebbal-Nagawara Valley Project.
The online petition has received more than 7,000 responses as of Monday.
In the online petition, the FFF has demanded that owing to the pandemic situation, the deadline for submitting objections to the project be extended. It has also stated that experts should be consulted to ensure that the project does not affect the ecology of the area.
The forest department had earlier sought public responses to the project before axing trees in the region. While the department has said objections, if any, should reach it before June 24, activists have demanded that they revisit the decision.
The proposed lake rejuvenation is to be carried out by the department of minor irrigation and groundwater development as part of the Hebbal-Nagawara valley project, which aims to recharge 65 big water tanks spread across the arid taluks of Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural and Chikkaballapur districts, at an estimated cost of Rs 948 crore.
Meanwhile, the Bengaluru activists have already expressed their concern over making transformations that can affect the biodiversity of the area. Actor and former Congress leader Ramya Divya Spandana has also extended her support against the move.
In a letter protesting against the move, the activists stated, “It is home to peacocks belonging to schedule 1 under the Wildlife Protection act (1972), apart from a rich biodiversity consisting of foxes, snakes, birds, and insects. Lake experts are of the opinion that lake rejuvenation can happen without cutting such a huge number of trees. Time is needed for such plans to be presented.”
City-based NGO Namma Bengaluru Foundation has said that its members visited the spot and spotted peacocks, bird nests, snake pits, moths, butterflies and many other birds and animals, which are vital to the biodiversity of the region.
“We support the lake rejuvenation project but not at cost of the ecology and habitats in the region. All the findings have not been listed in the documents which have been shared in the public domain and the proposed move to cut down 6,316 trees is a short-sighted approach. The trees protect the catchment area which has been recharging the groundwater for decades. This ecosystem has supported the nearby villages for many generations,” said Vinod Jacob, Managing Director of Namma Bengaluru foundation.
The forest department has said that most of the trees in the area are of the Jaali Mara species (Prosopis Juliflora), while local residents have pointed out that there are also Acacia and Pongame oil trees (Honge Mara) trees which might be axed if the project goes ahead.
Apart from this, environmentalists said, the area also has peacocks, which are included under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, along with foxes, snakes, birds and other animals.
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