Democracy In Action: Karnataka Government Drops Amendments In Tree Bill After Citizen Protests

Democracy In Action: Karnataka Government Drops Amendments In Tree Bill After Citizen ProtestsBengaluru is also called the Garden City. (PiolAtif via Wikimedia Commons)

The Karnataka state government on Wednesday (21 February) decided to withdraw its proposed amendments to the Karnataka Tree Preservation Act 1976, following protests by several green activists and the general public, the New Indian Express has reported.

The proposed amendment, presented in a joint session of the state legislators, would’ve allowed cutting down 50 species of trees without permission. However, following opposition from the people, state Law and Parliamentary Affairs minister, T B Jayachandra withdrew the proposal on behalf of the government.

“The government realised that the people could misuse the provisions of the bill to cut the trees in forests. This could affect environment and forest cover. So we decided to withdraw the bill,” Jayachandra said.

Several civic personalities had come out strongly against the proposed amendments, including retired Karnataka and Maharastra High Court justice M F Saldhana, ‘tree doctor’ Vijay Nishanth and theatre personality Prakash Belawadi. They claimed that the proposal was ‘unscientific’ and that the trees had a lot of medicinal and environmental value.

Similar citizen protests had occurred when a 6-lane steel flyover was being planned by the government that would’ve led to 800 trees being chopped and the 150-year-old Balabrooie Guest House was about to be demolished. The administration had to back down on both counts as citizen voices grew stronger demonstrating the strength of civil society.