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Bengaluru Agency Poisons 17 Trees For Mobile Ad Hoarding, Booked

Nagarjun Dwarakanath | CNN-News18

Updated: March 10, 2017, 4:17 PM IST
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Bengaluru Agency Poisons 17 Trees For Mobile Ad Hoarding, Booked
At least 17 trees were poisoned and 13 more had their leafy canopies chopped off by hoarding advertisement agencies in south-east Bengaluru. (Photo: Nagarjun Dwarakanath/ CNN-News18)

Bengaluru: If you have been wondrously looking at those hoardings of larger-than-life photographs taken on your mobile phone, it's also time to see the bitter side of this story. The landscapes on ground seem to be making way for the landscapes on the hoarding.

In one shocking attempt at improving visibility for a mobile phone ad showing a beautiful picture, 17 trees seems to have been poisoned and 13 more had their leafy canopies chopped off by suspected ad- or hoarding- agencies in the prominent IT corridor in south-east Bengaluru. Another hoarding of a jewellery brand also benefited from the pruning and poisoning.

Officials of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) confirmed that they found evidence of acidic material in the soil around 17 Tespesia Papulenia (Behandi) trees along the Outer Ring Road near Marathhalli.

The first alert of the possible poisoning of these trees came from a tree conservationist Vijay Nishanth, who noticed the unusual damage to trees around a hoarding while passing by the Marathhalli junction.

“I went close to the trees and was shocked, I touched the bark and, immediately, it just crumbled into pieces. I physically scraped the acid and changed the soil,” Nishanth told News18.

He then alerted local BBMP officials, who visited the spot to ascertain what had happened. Nishanth and the officials then tried to minimise the effect of the acid, and have managed to salvage three of the trees.

"We are treating the trees with orange mix and bee wax. But 14 of the 17 trees have died," Nishanth says.

The BBMP's Forest Cell has now lodged an FIR against the outdoor agency that has put up the ad on behalf of the mobile phone maker under the Karnataka Preservation Of Trees Act for causing damage to the environment. If proven, culprits can be fined and jailed for three months.

Officials say they discovered the damage to the trees a week back, and have issued notices to both Nile Enterprises and the Archbishop's home, where the base of the billboard is placed, besides a neighbouring home where the jewellery hoarding stands. They are to reply in three days. Hoardings could be removed too.

"The billboard itself is illegal, as the agency had not obtained any license from the department. We will file a chargesheet once the investigation is done," said Deputy Conservator of Forests Appu Rao.

But officials in the know say that such damage to trees is not new. There have been instances in the past too where advertisers illegally destroyed trees to improve visibility.

"It is a regular feature in Bengaluru. They cannot cut trees, the Forest Department will never give permission for tree-cutting. So they drill holes, insert chemicals and then patch it up. The trees dry up and eventually fall in a few weeks, and officials will not be able to do anything. Forest and police officials must jointly take action," says senior KAS officer K Mathai, who had been the whistle-blower on the hoarding-mafia operating in BBMP limits last year.

First Published: March 10, 2017, 2:39 PM IST
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