Green BU campus a headache

The profuse growth of sandalwood and other valuable trees inside the Bangalore University’s Jnana­bharati campus has been a favourite hunting ground for smugglers, police and even security guards.

Wildlife activists in city suspect the involvement of police officials in allowing sandalwood smuggling inside the Jnanabharathi campus for the past many years.

A BBMP Forest Cell volunteer said that in the past, smugglers had been apprehended inside the Jnanabharati campus by locals and wildlife activists, but the police had let them go though cutting sandalwood tree is an offence.

“Some of the beat constables inside the Jnanabha­rathi have nexus with some sandalwood smuggling gangs from Tamil Nadu and other parts of the state.

The constables know which gang is operating on which date. Based on such information available with the constables, police were able to trace the accused in the gang-rape of a law student which took place inside the campus last Saturday,” claimed the volunteer.

Noted environmentalist A.N. Yellappa Reddy said sandalwood theft and encroachments are the major problems dogging the BU at Jnanabharathi.

“To avoid any illegal activities such as sandalwood cutting, we decided to create a bio-diversity park inside the campus. But the gangs operate on a regular basis and residents in Jnanabharathi often complain about sandalwood tree-felling inside the campus,” he said.

“Add to the problems, the growth of sandalwood is profuse in the BU campus and the large bird life helps trees grow through seed dispersal.

There are also rosewood trees inside the campus which attract smugglers. There are several sandalwood roots have been left by the smugglers, which themselves can fetch good money if the university wants,” Mr Yellappa Reddy said.

The state forest department has offered to protect the sandalwood wealth on the the 1,100 acres campus, but the university authorities have not bother to react. In the last one year there have been major incidents of sandalwood felling, but none of them have been reported in the police station.

Forest officials say most of the large campuses in city, which have sandalwood growth, attract smugglers. “But if you look at the BU campus, it can be approached from anywhere.

There are pockets inside the campus where, if a gang of smugglers hide during day time, they cannot be traced. Many of the gangs chop down young sandalwood trees during night which may not fetch much in the market, but the tree cutting continues,” said a forest official.

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