Farmers cultivate Nilgiri trees despite a ban

City Environment State

Farmers in Karnataka still cultivate Nilgiri trees despite Karnataka State Forest department imposed a ban on its cultivation.

Bangalore, April 9, 2019: Karnataka State Forest department banned plantation and cultivation of Nilgiri trees in the year 2011 stating it affects the ground water levels. But still there are farmers who cultivate these Nilgiri trees.

“I don’t know about ban on these trees. I grow them because they are easy to grow and take very less maintenance,” Venkatesh M, a farmer, said.

It takes four to five years to grow these trees. The prices of these trees depend on the height and structure of the tree. Farmers sell a tree at the Rs 300 to 600 per tree.

Nilgiri tree also termed as eucalyptus tree is known to cause a loss of between 20-40 litres of water a day due to evaporation.

“It has an allelopathic effect; it will not allow any other plants to grow near it. They banned it because one of the swamp fields dried because of these eucalyptus plants,” V. Karikalan, Indian Forest Service (IFS), Divisional Forest Officer, said.

Karnataka Forest Department imposed a ban after considering several studies conducted by experts in different parts of India, including in Karnataka, and foreign countries as well as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) stated in its report.

“Nilgiri trees definitely affect the ground water levels. Its roots go deep into the ground and lots of water evaporated through its leaves. These trees should be grown in areas where there is adequate water supply. Karnataka is facing water scarcity for the past few years now and it is important to conserve water. Since Nilgiri tree absorbs a lot of water, Karnataka is not suitable for its cultivation considering the water problems and the ban on it was suggested for this specific reason,” A N Yellappa Reddy, an environmentalist, said.

Like the experts and the officials say, these trees should not be grown in Karnataka considering the water scarcity the state is facing for the past few years.

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