Local communities up in arms over work inside Turahalli forest
Early on Tuesday morning, local communities living around the Turahalli Mini Reserve Forest were shocked to see earthmovers inside the forest. Some of them rushed to the spot to enquire only to be told that ‘work on clearing and levelling the land’ was being taken up based on directions from the Forest Department.
Vidya Ishwar, a member of Cleanup Turahalli, said the contractor executing the work claimed to be only clearing weeds for construction of a compound wall. “We immediately contacted the jurisdictional police, who came to the spot. The police officials contacted the forest officials, who claimed that work was for the upcoming tree park,” she said.
The State government recently announced, under Bengaluru Mission 2022, plans to establish two mega tree parks in the suburbs, each measuring over 400 acres, apart from popularising existing mini forests – Turahalli, J.P. Nagar, Kadugodi, Mathikere – among citizens.
Gautham Kamat from Change Makers of Kanakapura Road, who is part of Cleanup Turahalli, stressed on the need to leave the 600-odd acre Turahalli forest, one of the last few remaining green swathes in the city, and home to over 120 species of birds, untouched. “Around two years ago, the government declared that the existing tree park on 45 acres near the forest would be developed to keep people away from the main forest and protect the sensitive biodiversity. However, now there seems to be plans afoot to allow people unhindered into the forest,” he said.
Several communities have joined hands to form another group – Save Turahalli Forest – to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
Mr. Kamat said the members were mobilising public support against the tree park. “We will meet senior forest officials later this week. If no details are forthcoming from the department, we will makes plans to express our opposition through a walkathon, cyclathon, a human chain. We are also exploring legal options,” he added.
Several attempts to reach forest officials went in vain.