The Karnataka government might consider dropping its plan to convert the Turahalli forest into a tree park after large-scale residents' protests, Bengaluru Mirror reported.
However, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Sanjay Mohan said that there were no plans of dropping the project yet. "The tree park has been proposed in the CM's Mission 2022 programme. There is no plan in the government to drop it. Forest Minister Arvind Limbaballi and Minister of Co-operation ST Somashekhar will be meeting the protestors to understand their concerns shortly. If the local residents still do not want it, we may consider dropping the plan," the media outlet quoted Mohan as saying.
Mohan had earlier agreed to bring the residents' concerns to the notice of his higher authorities and the Forest Minister.
Turahalli forest is among the four forests identified by CM BS Yediyurappa for creating tree parks under the project 'Bengaluru Mission 2022'.
Earlier, the state government had announced making four Cubbon park-like spaces in different parts of the city. Citizens assumed the plan was to convert barren lands into tree parks, but it was later revealed that the protected forests were being considered for conversion.
"If the proposals are against the environment and wildlife, we will drop the plan," Somashekhar said.
The citizens held a large scale protest on Sunday, February 7, against the government's move of converting the 400-acres Turahalli forest area into a tree park. Expressing strong opposition, the residents alleged that the move 'is driven by real estate considerations'.
The protesters demanded the government to drop the project.
Speaking to The Times of India, Ecologist and Ornithologist Krishna MB said, "The region is the last vestige of forest that has survived in Bengaluru and has a significant role in the ecology of the city. The government should make plans to protect it."
"The forest patch was once an elephant corridor and is home to more than 120 species including migratory birds, and 60 types of flora, including Orchids," said one of the residents, Ashwani Pradeep. Pradeep is pursuing his PhD on the diversity of birds at Turahalli minor forest in Kuvempu University.
The protest was led by 'Changemakers of Kanakpura Road' and 'Clean UP Turahalli'.
"We are all speaking about forest and wildlife protection and a move like this will definitely affect the habitat. We do not have any right and tree park is just going to kill many of the species. Let the forest remain as forest and pass it to the next generation," resident Kavitha Bhavi said.