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Cycling Banned in Turuhalli Forest of Karnataka

Dr. Sangeeta Soi
Dr. Sangeeta Soi

The Turahalli forest in Karnataka is popular among trekkers, cyclists and bikers but they have been subjected to garbage dumping, littering, poaching and encroachment for many years now. In order to conserve the 500-acre space located 20 km from Bengaluru off Kanakapura Road, the state forest department will soon start regulating people’s entry there. Forest officials on Sunday said they will not allow any cycling activity in the forest area mainly spread in 500 acre in the city outskirt. Arrangement for basic public amenities and ticketed entry is in the upcoming plans of the officials in collaboration to corporates.   

The deputy conservator of forests, Dipika Bajpai Bengaluru, has reported that “Fencing around the forest is almost complete. We are now associating with companies who will take this up as a multi-year project to build basic amenities like walking trails, toilets, benches, pergolas and conducting nature tours,”  

Due to several incidents of illegal encroachments, Turahalli which is popular among trekkers, cyclists and bikers, is given the lack of access checks. In fact, in 2015, the revenue department allocated two acres of land within the forest buffer zone to build a memorial for late Kannada actor Vishnuvardhan. The allotment was set aside by a High Court order.  

Allotment of forest land last year by the Bengaluru urban deputy commissioner allocated 10 acres of buffer zone land for constructing a court complex created a buzz as no prior permission had been taken for land allotment.  

Bajpai said, “Regulating usage of the forest area will curb these problems. Along with basic infrastructure for the people, we are also considering a nominal entry fee that will generate revenue for maintenance.”  

It has been clearly declared that if anybody found guilty of misconduct then their cycle would be punished and a fine will also be put on. 

The activities which go against the organisms and plants of the forest will not be entertained at all.   According to sources, the department is expected to seal the deal with the CSR wing of a top corporate in the city and is in early-stage talks with a multinational electronics company. 

A strong opposition has been made by Ornithologist MB Krishna who has been vocal about unregulated cyclists and bikers harming flora and fauna at Turahalli. “Moving vehicles often run over small animals, plants or ground nesting birds. Increase in vehicular movement also leads to soil compaction and thereby, reduced groundwater percolation. Possibility of dried-up grass catching fire and spreading due to increased human activity cannot be ruled out either,” he said.  

A demand for cycle trek has also been made which will be looked upon in future. Rather forest is always open to educationist and learners across the country in condition they don't harm natural fauna and flora. 

Sunil Baberwal, resident of an apartment adjoining the forest and a member of the Eco Volunteers India Trust, said “In the last two years, we have often observed poachers who kill peacocks, mongooses and rabbits. Of late, residents have started round-the-clock patrolling of the forest and are in constant touch with the police and forest officials to report any discrepancy. Regulating entry will improve conservation.”  

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