Onus on BBMP to check dangerous trees: Residents

Thirty-six students had a miraculous escape when a big banyan fell on a school bus on Varthur-Gunjur Main Road on Monday. SPECiAL ARRANGEMENT

The falling of a tree on a school bus in Varthur-Gunjur main road on Monday triggered debate among residents on who is responsible for the accident.

Many blamed the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), for failing to frequently check the trees.

They said the Palike should have marked the old and weak trees and uprooted them frequently. Civic officials insisted that they did not fail to check the trees and attributed to Monday’s incident on the damaged roots due to excavation works by civic agencies.

Meanwhile, a parent of a child studying in the international school –whose bus was struck by the falling tree - filed an RTI application to find out details of the Cauvery pipeline work in Varthur such as the plan and the deadline.

“BBMP horticulture (department) needs to immediately investigate and explain what their process is for checking on the health of trees and specifically in this case, check to see if there was any disease and report with genuine transparency rather than with an effort to avoid blame,” the parent Nitya Ramakrishnan said.

“It may be no-one’s fault as well but we just want sincerity in the investigation,” Nitya, whose child is studying at TISB, added.

She wanted the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) to probe if the pipe laying has damaged the stability of the tree’s roots and possibly other trees.

An official from the BBMP forest department said they uprooted around 18 old and weak trees in Varthur ward, acting on citizens’ complaints. Over 180 trees have been uprooted in the Mahadevapura zone in the last few months, the official added.

“We keep checking the trees frequently, prune the weak branches and uproot old/unhealthy trees,” he said.

BBMP’s ward engineer Ramesh said he received instructions from higher authorities at the civic body to check the remaining old trees in Varthur and take suitable action.

Tree census

Following last week’s high court direction to hold the tree census in 30 days, the civic body would start the process across the city. Institution of Wood Science and Technology (IWST) will conduct the census.

The BBMP obtained all necessary clearances from the state government to hand over the job to IWST that quoted Rs 4 crore for the census. “We’ll release the funds to IWST in a few days. The tree census would help in identifying the health and age of the trees, besides other details,” a BBMP forest department official said, wishing to remain anonymous.

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