Don't amend KPTA to fell 30 more tree types - English sign now

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/treeact/

The Karnataka state government in India wants to amend The Karnataka Preservation of Trees or KPT Act, 1976, to increase the number of tree types that could be felled indiscriminately on the private lands without taking permission from the forest department from the present 11 to 41.

1977: Two types were exempted. They're
01) Casuarina / Jangli saru (Hin) / Sarve mara (Kan)
02) Hopea Wightiana

1987: Nine more types were exempted. They're
03) Coconut
04) Erythrina / Indian Coral Tree / Mandara (Hin) / Halivana (Kan)
05) Eucalyptus
06) Gliricidia
07) Prosopis
08) Rubber
09) Sesbania
10) Silver Oak
11) Subabul

Kan->Kannada
Mara in Kannada means / denotes a tree
Hin->Hindi
2010: The Karnataka state govt proposes to exempt 30 more types. They're
12) Ficus benghalensis / Banyan / Kalpavriksha (Hin) / Aala (Kan) (National Tree of India)
Kalpavriksha (Hin) / Kalpavruksha (Kan) means 'wish fulfilling divine tree'
13) Ficus religiosa / Peepul / Peepal (Hin) / Arali (Kan) [Sacred tree]
14) Arecanut / Supari (Hin) / Adake (Kan)
15) Ficus racemosa / Cluster fig tree / Queen of Trees
Gular (Hin) / Atthi (Kan)
16) Ficus virens / White Fig / Pilkhan (Hin) / Basarimara (Kan)
17) Coffee
18) Ficus mysorensis / Mysore Fig / Goni (Kan)
19) Guava / Amrood (Hin) / Seebe (Kan)
20) Azadirachta indica / Hebbevu (a type of neem tree)
21) Jackfruit / Kathal (Hin) / Phanas (Urdu) / Halasu (Kan)
22) Babul / Babool (Hin) / Karijali (Kan)
23) Lemon / Nimbu (Hin) / Limbu (Urdu) / Nimbe (Kan)
24) Maesopsis eminii / Umbrella tree / Chhathri Vriksha/Vruksha (Hin) / Chhathri Mara (Kan)
25) Mango / Aam (Hin) / Maavina Mara (Kan)
26) Neem (Eng / Hin) / Bevina Mara (Kan)
27) Orange / Narangi (Hin) / Kittale (Kan)
28) Pongamia / Pongam Oil / Beech Tree / Karanj (Hin) / Honge Mara (Kan)
29) Sapota (Eng/Kan) / Cheekoo (Hin)
30) Seemegala (Incomprehensible & unidentifiable name invented & listed by the highly innovative Karnataka forest dept)
31) Tamarind / Imli (Hin) / Hunase (Kan)
32) Zizyphus / Jujube (Eng) / Ber/Beri (Hin) / Bari (Kan)
33) Burma Bamboo
34) Yellow Bamboo
35) Acacia ferruginea / Banni (Hin/Kan)
36) Ailanthus Excelsa / Maha/Bada Neem (Hin) / Doddabevu (Kan)
37) Dalbergia Sissoo / Indian Rosewood / Shisham (Hin) / Agaru (Kan)
38) Gmelina arborea / White Teak / Gamhar (Hin) / Shivani (Kan)
39) Acacia Mangium / Australian Teak (Eng) / Australia Sawan (Hin)
40) Acacia Hybrid
41) Cashew / Kaju or Kaaju (Hin) / Godambi (Kan)

Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, 1976
01) Trees may only be felled with prior mandatory permission of the Forest Department
02) There were no exemptions from this restriction in the original Act
03) Prevented large scale felling of trees
04) Restrained people and officials from unnecessarily felling trees owing to fear of criminal prosecution
05) Put a brake on tree felling and helped protect our green cover
06) 02 types were exempted in 1977
07) 09 more types were exempted in 1987
08) GoK (Govt of Karnataka) proposes to exempt 30 more valuable types in 2010
09) If amended, felling of 41 types would not require prior permission of the forest department

Any person (including a public official of a municipal corporation or government / civic department / body in his official capacity) who fells a tree that is not in the exemption list without prior official permission of the Tree Officer is liable for criminal prosecution.

Trees
01) provide shade and cooling effect
02) mitigate the extremes of climate
03) render aesthetic beauty
04) purify the polluted atmosphere
05) mute the noise
06) have been one of the first casualties of pressure on space in our cities and towns

Karnataka State
01) is losing its tree cover
02) effects of climate change are becoming apparent

Tree fellings
01) unless severely restricted and regulated our green cover may disappear through greed and ignorance
02) livelihoods of 1000s of families that subsist on gathering the seeds, fruits and flowers will be severely compromised

Ficus tree species
01) home to millions of birds and small mammals which not only feast on the figs but also act as insect controlling agents.
02) removal will devastate bird life and thus aid spread of pests.

Karnataka Forest Department
01) has the duty and liability to preserve and protect trees
02) is the official and public protector of trees
03) is mandated to protect and increase green cover
04) is actually making it more easy for anybody and everybody to fell trees at will through these various amendments since 1977
05) move to expand the exemption list could amount to dereliction of duty at the general cost of the State and the environment

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/74023/timber-lobby-trying-hack-open.html
Timber lobby trying to hack open the Trees Act - By Praveen Bhargav (Trustee, Wildlife First) in Deccan Herald June 14, 2010

Elements within the government - including a few forest officers - have apparently colluded with the powerful timber lobby and have been persistently pushing hard for these amendments.

Preservation (and not destruction) of trees is the main objective of the KPTA.

While other statutes like the Indian Forest Act (IFA), Forest Conservation Act (FCA) and Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) prohibit and regulate indiscriminate cutting of trees on forestland, the KPTA was enacted primarily to protect trees on private lands.

Scattered in the ecologically sensitive landscape of the Western Ghats are pristine forested enclosures which are under private ownership.

Capricious timber contractors have already obtained GPAs from many owners and are attempting to cut thousands of trees. Jackfruit and many species of the ficus family are found in such areas.

By simply getting them out of the purview of law, timber merchants hope to have a free run.

Major timber scam (massive tree felling) 1993-1994
In forested district Kodagu during 1993-1994
After considerable damage and public outcry, a high-level enquiry was ordered
But not even a single offender or indicted forest officer was punished

On Dec 12, 1996, the Supreme Court passed a landmark order / directive
Stopping the felling of trees in all forests
Redefined the meaning of forests
Directed that the term forest land also includes forests as understood in the dictionary sense irrespective of ownership
Would prevail notwithstanding any order at variance made or which may be made by any government, authority, tribunal or court including high courts
Applied emergency brakes
Sent the timber lobby into a major skid
Electric and chain saws fell silent
Massive tree felling that was taking place across the country came to a stop

Every state government came under orders to identify such forests and sawmills operating near forests. Tree felling in forests can now be carried out only on the basis of a working plan with prior approval of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

Timber lobby
realised that the apex court was in no mood to budge
used other time-tested tricks to overcome the directives
got the Karnataka government to issue a circular permitting tree felling in evergreen and semi-evergreen areas in 1999

Karnataka govt's circular/order issued in 1999
permitted tree felling in evergreen and semi-evergreen areas in 1999
is completely at variance to the Supreme Court order and is thus ultra vires

Senior forest officers -- including two Principal Chief Conservators of Forests (PCCFs) have issued memorandums pointing out how the SC order will prevail over all other orders. Reports have also been sent to the government with a strong advice to withdraw the offending order. Not surprisingly, they have been completely ignored and the reports are gathering dust.

2006 posting of a forest officer with a dubious record in/to Kodagu
Some timber merchants who had masterminded the 1993 scam swiftly moved in
Permitted felling of over 3,500 trees under the KPTA using the 1999 circular, in blatant violation of SC orders
Some senior officers who intervened to stop the felling were transferred hastily

A local NGO petitioned the Karnataka high court.

Karnataka High Court
stayed all felling permissions but also sought to know what action the government proposed to initiate against the forest officer

Forest Officer
was removed in February 2009
But even after one year, deterrent disciplinary action is yet to be initiated

Timber merchants
again got desperate and began lobbying to get around the Karnataka High Court order

The genesis of the present proposal to remove restrictions on 41 tree types by amending KPTA can thus be traced back to this tree felling scam.

Instead of withdrawing the 1999 circular and removing loopholes in the Act, the government is attempting to weaken it.

The potential danger is not just to trees in Bangalore but to thousands of trees in the forested enclosures under private ownership in the Western Ghats that are far away from public glare.

Considering the un-inspiring record of the government, and the presence of a few powerful forest officers close to the present power centres, the larger interests of the state would be better served if this disastrous proposal is prevented from reaching anywhere near the legislature.

CONCLUSION:
Amendment
01) will be a free licence to civic authorities, infrastructure developers, and timber contractors
and miners to fell these trees in the name of development
02) would make/render the KPT Act essentially/virtually useless
03) will hasten merciless killing of trees.
04) will/would lead to a total loss of green cover

So, the exemption list must not be expanded.

Since rapid urbanisation, mining, infrastructure development and degradation of land were causing widespread loss of vegetation it is incumbent to legislate to restrict and regulate the felling of trees and prescribe growing of a minimum number where none exists.

No tree-planting programme can ever compensate the loss of existing large and old trees.

Therefore, we the petition signers strongly urge the Government of Karnataka (GoK) to withdraw / scrap this proposed amendment to the KPT Act, 1976 at the earliest.

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Twila HigginsBy:
WorkIn:
Petition target:
Honble Supreme Court, President, PM, Union MoEF, Karnataka Governor (Guv), Chief Minister (CM), Lokayukta, Chief Secy, PCCFs, Addnl PCCFs, CCFs, CFs, DCFs, ACFs, RFOs, Principal Secys Forest, Ecology & Environment / Agriculture / Horticulture / DPAR

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