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Afforestation:HAL shows the way

Rasheed Kappan, Bangalore, August 29, 2013, DHNS: 1:54 IST
Thousands of trees might have faced the infrastructural axe in the City, reducing afforestation to a mere eco-slogan. But there is a neat little twist in this one-way trail of green destruction.

Turning the tide with a defiant, dedicated tree-planting drive, aviation major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has transformed huge swathes of land under its control into islands of verdant greenery. Dominating the City’s eastern landscape, HAL properties cover an expanse of 2,100 acres. By covering the once ignored wastelands with teak plantations, herbal gardens and a huge range of canopied trees, the Defence PSU has partially compensated for the reckless greying of the surrounding areas by revenue layouts galore.

The Suranjan Das road-widening project that sliced through the area had felled 200 trees, casting a grey shadow over the green expanse. It had even threatened to cut down more trees on the two-acre Sadbhavana and Sabkamana Parks, erected in 2003-04 on the spot vacated by the old railway line to Vimanapura station. The tree-lined jogging track inside the Parks barely survived the BBMP’s axe.

The threat of more green loss to infrastructure projects pushed HAL to take up its tree-planting initiative with renewed vigour. Ten acres of its land in Kempapura village near Bellandur lake, -- which also hosts HAL’s own Sewage Treatment Plant -- were given a complete green overhaul.

“We planted hundreds of rosewood, teak and other trees which attract different bird species,” K Somanath, Senior Manager, Horticulture Department, HAL, told Deccan Herald. Also refurbished was the three-acre Ambedkar Park on Old Airport road and the Township parks in Marathahalli. The PSU’s 12-acre plot near Jyothinagar was fenced and populated by dense teak plantations.
Mixed plantations

Another 40 acres in the Dodda Nekkundi area was chosen for a similar green treatment. “Here we adopted mixed plantations comprising silver oak trees, acacia and bamboo. The cattle-proof fence was replaced with a compound all around,” informed Somanath.

The plot on Old Madras Road inside the Senior Officer’s Enclave had a herbal makeover, with neem trees and pongamia medicinal plants. A unique Herbal Garden will soon take shape on a 3,000 square meter plot.

The Enclave will also host an Organic Waste Converter (OWC), generating tonnes of compost to fertilise HAL’s multitude of parks and gardens, as Uday Kumar, Deputy General Manager, Facilities Management Division, informed. The OWC is part of a HAL agenda to ensure zero-waste to the landfills within the next six months. Another set-up near GM Palya treats the wet waste generated by HAL’s 3,700 households.

Currently, the waste from the HAL Market and other community establishments are disposed by Terra Firma under the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB).

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