Mangaluru, Jan 05, 2017: Chaos and drama ruled public hearing by the Forest Department on the government’s proposal to cut 600 plus trees for constructing the Deputy Commissioner’s office complex at Padil, on Jan 4, Thursday. The department conducted the hearing in a small room in the office of Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF).
It contributed to the chaos as in the crowded room those favouring the project, shouted slogans while green enthusiasts opposed it. There was chaos and commotion with those favouring and opposing the issue raising their voice. Finally, the police were called in to maintain order.
As the hearing began, a group of what seemed to be activists of a political party stormed the room and argued with green enthusiasts opposing the cutting of trees.
Another group, led by Harinath and M. Shashidhar Hegde, both former Mayors and now Congress councillors, entered the room and shouted in favour of the project. Hegde said that 10 councillors (all from the Congress) present in the room favoured cutting the trees for the project.
The green activists questioned the move to cut the trees and demanded that the project could come up elsewhere without cutting the trees. But another group argued that it should come up in the same place, that is Padil. The activists also objected to conducting the hearing in the small room and not allowing them to speak.
Karikalan, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Dakshina Kannada who is also the Tree Officer for the district, told them that if all were allowed to speak there would be no end to lengthy speeches.
He then asked those present to file their statement on the proposal in writing, for or against. Later, many left the room filing their papers. Officer Karikalan announced that of the 189 persons, who filed their statement on the spot, 95 persons opposed cutting the trees and 94 persons were for it.
Some Mangaluru City Corporation councillors, who barged into a meeting convened by the district administration on Thursday, ensured that the meeting was mired in chaos.
Despite leaders of various organisations, senior citizens and forest department officials making repeated attempts to convince the protesters, they kept on shouting “Beke Beku DC Kacheri Beku” (we want DC’s office). The forest department officials clarified that the meeting pertained exclusively to the issue of felling of trees. However, the MCC members did not pay heed. The situation came under control after police personnel intervened.
He said that in addition the department has received over 1,000 e-mails on the hearing. The department was yet to classify them whether for or against.
The Assistant Conservator for Forest (ACF), Mangaluru, who is the tree officer for taking a decision on felling the trees inside the jurisdiction of the corporation, would take a call on whether to allow the cutting or not. It is the prerogative of the tree officer. To a question by reporters on the size of the room chosen for the hearing he said that the hearing was meant only to receive the statements and hence it was enough.