The Sankey Road tree cutting by BBMP was the most awful news to start my day. The BBMP had auctioned the trees in the midnight for a 4-digit number and had begun chopping trees immediately. The residents had actually waited on the road until midnight seeing to it that the auction didn’t happen. But when the people retired for the night, the BBMP went ahead with the auction secretly. A few people came out in the night protesting the illegal nature in which the tree cutting had begun. When the people asked for the order, the officials said that it was on its way. But the tree cutting was in process. The local TV channel, TV9 captured it which people saw first thing in the night. There were not many people in the night who turned up to protest. And this time BBMP has police protection. There was a strong police force overseeing the tree-cutting process.
I got to know most of this in the morning. Thanks to Twitter, lot of people tweeted about the tree cutting on Sankey road and requested people to join the protest. Huge trees were being brought down. People hugged trees but there is little one can do when the police force is bigger than the no of people protesting. The protesters were asked why only a few were protesting which meant the rest were okay with tree-felling and road-widening. Since some of the protesters were not residents of the area, they were asked why they had come to protest since they don’t even live in Malleshwaram. People protesting tried various means to mobilise people. I kept following all of this from my cosy computer chair, but when I heard about protesters being arrested on false charges I couldn’t take it. The mails had started coming in through various forums that protesters were being arrested and that it would be helpful if more people could join the protesters. The protesters who were arrested were done by slapping false charges of disrupting the work of a officer on duty. The women who were arrested by also handled very badly. Victoria, a protester was literally dragged by the women cops and in the process she was hurt badly. I was anyway planning to join the protest in the evening. So when I reached Sankey road by 6.30, a stay order was already issued on the tree-felling process until Monday. A candle-light vigil protest was being planned.
pic by Lakshmi Sharath
pic by Lakshmi Sharath
The stretch looked awful. Huge trees were pulled down using rope and the stretch is full of broken branches and . So BBMP has plans to pull down 9 trees. And I think 6-7 are already down(if I am not wrong). These are huge trees and apparently the trees less than 10yrs old aren’t even counted. Come to think of it, nothing has changed since 5yrs. The same old road-widening programme, the same old dirty way of pulling down trees in the night, no public-consultation whatsoever – very sad. Just that apparently the current count for the number of roads to be widened is 216. I don’t know when will BBMP ever get it that road-widening is not going to solve the problem. And what about trees worth lakhs being auctioned for a few thousands. Now is that the real idea behind auction?
Now we as people living in this beautiful city also need to take up some responsibility. I think most of us feel that we don’t belong to this city, so we don’t have to care about whatever happens. It is really sad to see that not many residents turned up to save the trees. Even today most people were happy walking around the lake. The campaign can only be effective when people turn up in large nos. It is shameful that we had to let cops treat us so harshly. I thought the cops were there to protect the citizens. If we had participated in large nos., there is very little that they can do. Infact, a lot of people passing by the road didn’t seem keen on take a look on what was happening. Some people did seem curious but moved on after trying to shake hands with the protesters. We need to realise that we are part of the problem.
Now, we need to wait and see what happens on Monday. I really hope people turn up in large numbers to protect those trees.Original Entry