Three Trees may have been Alive Today if they could Vote!

To
The Principal Chief Conservator  of  Forests,
Shri G.V. Sugur (IFS),
Aranya Bhavan,
Bengaluru, Karnataka.

Dear Sir,

Sub.: 3 trees may have been alive today if they could vote!

I write to you because I believe there are flaws in the standard operating procedures of your department which need to be understood and improved upon by the higher level management.

I have witnessed the following flaws:

1)  Your  forest dept.  treats the spirit of protecting trees in a callous manner :
a)   On the 29th, i.e.:  2 days back, when I saw the 3 trees cut-up as mentioned in  (1) (b) below , I realized that urgent action was needed to protect a nearby Alstonia Scholaris tree which appears to me to be around 300 years old!

Trees_01022015_AA1132

Trees_01022015_AA1132-001

Around 1630hrs, on the 29th I called various forest dept. offices and obtained the mobile number, 9611523666,of the RFO, Moodubidire. I explained to the RFO that he should protect the ancient Alstonia tree as there may be attempts to remove it too. He gave me the mobile number,9743217447, of the DFO Shri Prakash Shetty and asked me to show the DFO the Alstonia tree. He said he would inspect the tree whenever he was in the area with the DFO.

 

I called the DFO immediately and informed him of my conversation with the RFO. On the 30th morning laterite stones and a truck full of mud was unloaded close to the Alstonia tree. After waiting for the DFO until 1600hrs, then I once again called the DFO and informed him of the development and asked when he would be visiting. He assured me that he would visit on 31st afternoon.

Sadly, he never turned up even today. Although both the above officers were polite in conversation their words have not matched up to their actions!

b)  I am given to understand that your DCF had passed the order to fell 3 live trees, 2 Jackfruit and 1 Mango, at Karianangady,  Belvai Gram Panchayat(GP), Moodubidire, Mangalore.

According to your dept. they acted upon a request by the GP .

I have several times stood under the shade of these now felled trees, while waiting for a bus, and never have they harmed me in the last 2 years; whether rain, strong wind or sunshine.

By the way we are talking about trees here and not a rampaging Lion!

There is as much possibility of the said trees falling on peoples’ heads as of having an IAF Sukhoi aircraft fall on our heads from the sky!

I am particularly intrigued by the felling being done, post-haste, to coincide with the day of the Gram Sabha.

Timeline of felling of the trees:

a)  The GP ward- 4 meeting was held on Jan.27, 2015.
b)  The trees were felled between Jan.27- 29, 2015.
c)  The GP gram sabha was held on Jan.29, 2015.

It is even more intriguing  because about 2 months back the bus stop, which was sheltered from rain and sun by the older jackfruit tree, was broken down by the GP and a new one built, away from the same tree, with funds from MLA or whatever source. I was happy with this action but unfortunately it turned out to be a ploy to kill 2 birds with one stone by the GP??!

At the time of breaking down the bus stop the branches of all the 3 trees were cut and the trees left bare of their leaves. I did not complain because I felt it was a small price to pay if the trees were to be saved .

The original complaint by the persons who influenced the GP to remove the trees was that the older jack tree was posing a hazard to the occupants of the tiled bus stop.  I fail to understand the logic of cutting the tree when the bus stop itself was shifted!

And, it seems to have been a “jackpot” of felling of trees: because, 2 neighbouring trees were cut along with the tree which was originally accused of being a hazard!

Your forest dept. says that the said trees are governed by the Karnataka Forest Act.

Irrespective, does not the spirit of the Karnataka Tree protection Act apply?
Quote

STATEMENTS OF OBJECTS AND REASONS

Act 76 of 1976.-
Industrialisation and pressure of population have resulted in heavy destruction of tree growth in urban areas. Trees which provide shade, mitigate the extremes of climate, render aesthetic beauty, purify the polluted atmosphere, mute the noise, have been one of the first casualties of pressure on space in our cities andtowns…………………….The percentage of forest area in the heavy rainfall zone is very much below the required level.

Preamble to the Act:

WHEREAS with the growing pace of urbanisation, industrialisation and increasing
population, there has been indiscriminate felling of a large number of trees in the
rural and urban areas of the State of Karnataka leading to erratic rainfall, recurring
famines and floods, soil erosion and consequent ecological disturbances;

Unquote

2)    Once a tree is felled by the forest department  in a public place , it is numbered by chalk and left at the spot to be collected later:

This makes it wholly susceptible to robbery. The question is that if even one of the logs goes missing, how will the forest department ever trace it?  I have learnt from your dept. that as per procedure they are first supposed to cut-up the tree, then measure the logs and then make a requisition for transport. How long this transport will be requisitioned within is not clear.

Why should this be so? When your department passes an order to cut-up a tree why is it that the cut logs cannot be transported immediately ?

It seems like your staff do not do any scientific assessment consisting of  health , silvicultural maturity  etc. of a tree prior to passing an order to cut-up a tree. If they did then obviously they would know the length and girth of the tree and based on that the transport could be arranged to be ready at the time of cutting-up of a tree. I understand having to cut-up a tree and leave it in an emergency but not every such cutting can be treated as an emergency!

I have measured the approximate length  and  diameter of the chalk-marked logs which number 10 nos and excludes 3 more smaller pieces.

3) Poor internal communication within your department:
I refer you to my email dated 3 February 2014 12:06 AM  sent to acf_mudabidire@yahoo.com .(please see attached exhibit 1).

Your Moodubidire office says that they are not aware of my email. If it is so, then the failure lies on the part of your department to have communicated my email to the applicable officials. And, it displays how alert your dept. is toward the cause of saving trees. With both central and state governments moving toward quicker means of communications, using e- governance, there is no excuse for govt. officials not to take cognizance of communication received by email.

Conclusion:

It is my contention that your forest dept. treated the spirit of protecting the above felled trees in a rather vain and callous manner.

It is my contention that a proper scientific investigation combined with tireless efforts , aimed at trying to save the life of a tree as far as possible , by exploring alternative measures, which could have been taken to mitigate any perceived hazard from the said trees, was not done by your department.

Prayer:

I do hope you will acknowledge this email, enquire into the felling of the said trees and improve or revise your SOP and standards of supervision.

So that such unsympathetic felling of trees does not recur at the behest of some people, who are misinformed, misguided and/or who act for self gain and not in the interest of society at large and who hold the forest department to ransom with claims, often self-devised, of threat to life and property by trees.

At this rate are we going to chop up all trees within the vicinity of human dwellings??? We hope that does not happen!

Even trees should have the right to prove that they are innocent until proved guilty?!

Yours sincerely,
Melroy C.F. Fernandes;
“Pushp”;
Karianangady, Beluvai Post;
Moodubidire, Mangalore;
Karnataka -574213.