Cement pathway poses threat to Big Banyan Tree’s roots

Cement pathway poses threat to Big Banyan Tree’s roots

The Horticulture Department, which is supposed to take care of the 400-year-old Big Banyan Tree off Mysuru Road, has started to build a concrete pathway that is likely block the tree’s aerial roots and threaten its very existence.

The giant tree covers three acres and is one of the largest of its kind. In the last few days, the horticulture department, which is maintaining the tree, started to lay the cement pathway on the gaps of the roots and is also renovating the temple sheltered under the banyan tree. Narahari Rao, an IT professional from the city, planned to visit the tree off Mysuru Road in western Bengaluru to spend his weekend but to his shock, the department was laying the cement walk pathway which he felt was clearly destroying the tree roots.

A frequent visitor to the place, Rao said: “I was appalled to see the concrete road being laid inside the park replacing the existing tiled walking path in the heritage park. I don’t think the plan is conducive for the tree or environment.”

“They are also constructing a concrete structure for the temple. I took my friends from abroad to the place but felt a bit embarrassed by the unscientific way the work is being carried out,” he added.

Harmful: Yellappa Reddy

Environmentalist and retired forest officer A N Yellappa Reddy said laying the concrete structure or cement pathway near the roots of the banyan tree was “very dangerous” to the growth of the tree. “The character of this tree is something unique. If the main trunk disappears, it can spread its branches through several aerial roots. When you restrict the aerial roots with a cement pathway, the growth of the tree will stop,” he said.

Noting that banyan trees survive for thousands of years with the help of these roots, he said it was unfortunate that authorities were creating a cement structure near the roots. “The tiles will allow the roots to absorb rainwater, but concrete will not. We can build any kind of building within no time, but we cannot create this kind of tree. It is our responsibility to save this heritage tree,” he explained.

No aware: Dept

However, head of the Horticulture Department said he was not aware of the development. Deputy director of Horticulture, Bengaluru Rural, Rudresh told DH, “According to rules, cement pathways should not be laid at the park. I think they may have placed bricks to prevent soil inflow. But I will check with the officials and make sure that they do not construct a concrete pathway.”

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