Earlier, Bengaluru had one BBMP tree officer, but the tree census triggered the need for another
Lack of personnel to conduct the tree census can no longer be an excuse as the city will have two tree officers who will also be responsible for green cover.
The Forest Department has appointed the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Bengaluru Urban division, as the tree officer for private areas within the limits of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). The officer will be joining the existing DCF of the civic body.
According to a recent Forest Department notification, the DCF, BBMP will be the tree officer for conservation and management of trees on roads and parks which are “under the administrative control of BBMP”. “For all other areas within BBMP limits, the DCF, Bengaluru Urban division (Forest Department), has been appointed as the tree officer,” the notification reads.
Earlier, Bengaluru had one tree officer for the entire city. But the crucial tree census for Bengaluru triggered the need for another tree officer.
The BBMP had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Institute of Wood Science and Technology to undertake the tree census, which was supposed to begin in the last quarter of 2019. But the MoU stated that only trees in public spaces will be enumerated. This was followed by a PIL petition in the Karnataka High Court.
The court took objection to this and directed the BBMP to also enumerate trees on private land.
The BBMP had stated practical difficulties in covering private land, including apartment complexes and owners of private land not allowing enumerators in. This is one of the main reasons the Forest Department has decided to divide the responsibilities between the DCF of the BBMP’s forest cell and the DCF of Bengaluru Urban, Forest Department, officials said.
“Earlier, the BBMP area had the BBMP DCF as tree officer. But during the case in court regarding the tree census, the civic body has said that it cannot do it on its own. That is why we decided to appoint the DCF of Bengaluru Urban as the tree officer to cover private areas,” said a senior official of the Forest Department.
Not just tree census
The new arrangement will not be limited to the tree census, officials added. “All duties will now be divided between the two DCFs,” said the official.
However, sources in the civic body said this may lead to some confusion as councillors and citizens will have to figure out if they should approach the BBMP DCF or the Forest Department for permissions such as for tree cutting.
According to the BBMP, the duties and responsibilities of the DCF include raising nursery and avenue plantation in vacant lands, government and other public places, lake bunds, and parks. “He is responsible for preserving and developing tress. He has the power to invite tender for forestry works. The Range Forest Officers, Assistant Conservator of Forest, Deputy Range Forest Officer, and Forest Guards come under the administrative control of the Deputy Conservator Forests,” the civic body says.
6,000 trees counted so far
The tree census, which began on February 18, has so far counted 6,000 trees in the city. H.S. Ranganathaswamy, DCF, BBMP, said this number includes the counting exercise taken up across eight zones, including private land. “We have also started compiling the scientific names, measurement and growth details of the trees, and will start putting up the details on the BBMP website for the public. We will be able to finish this in the three-year timeline,” he said.
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