Citys outskirts to get green cover a la Bandipur

Mini forests planned to mitigate climate changes

Citys outskirts to get green cover a la Bandipur

In an effort to reduce the number of visitors to prime forests like Bandipur and Nagarahole, the Forest department has planned to develop similar habitats in Bengaluru urban and rural districts as well as in the neighbouring Chikkaballapur district by the end of this year.

The department also aims at creating more green patches closer to the City to mitigate climate changes.

The Forest department’s ambitious project will involve fencing 30,000 acres of forest land in phases, in Hoskote, Doddabalapur and Devanahalli in Bengaluru Rural district, certain forest areas on the outskirts of the City and in Chikkaballapur. Of the total area, 12,500 acres spread across 34 stocks is available around Bengaluru’s outskirts.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests G V Sugur told Deccan Herald, presently, a 52-km long compound is being built around forest areas in Hoskote, Roerich Estate, Devanahalli, Turahalli and around Bannerghatta National Park, under the first phase. By the end of 2015, work in some of the aforementioned areas will be completed and open to public. This work includes fencing, tree plantation, creating public amenities, walking paths and open relaxing lung spaces, he said. The first phase will be completed by March 2016, he added.

Sugur said the cost of fencing one kilometre is around Rs 30-35 lakh. Thus, the entire project will cost the department around Rs 70-80 crore, of which close to Rs 25 crore was for Bengaluru and its surroundings alone. Due to dearth of funds, the project has been divided into three phases that is scheduled to be covered in three years.

Sugur said the department has been working on this proposal for one year. So far, about two-thirds of the work is done, including identifying and mapping areas, preparing master plan, allocating area-wise funds and clearing encroachments, he added.

Apart from the cost, the fencing was delayed because during the re-survey, it was found that 70-80 acres of land was encroached upon by houses, disposed garbage, construction debris and even layout work, Sugur said.

This included Bannerghatta National Park where small houses had mushroomed on 7-8 acres of land and then demolished. The case was the same in Bhutanahalli State Forest, Sugur added. At the forest patch near Devanahalli, near the international airport, 10-12 acres of land was encroached upon by realtors to construct townships and apartments.

Eco-Watch Director Suresh Heblikar appreciated the project, but said the department should choose the right type of trees for plantation.

“This venture is important because the corporation has cut down many trees for urbanisation. Many kalyanis and water beds have been encroached upon in and around City. Lung spaces have given way for the Metro.”

Minimal protection
Environmentalist A N Yellappa Reddy said, to ensure that there is no encroachment in the future, the communities living in the vicinity should be involved in protecting the area. As forest guards visit the spots once in a fortnight, the protection is minimal, he said.

But once the locals are made aware of the advantages–clean air and improved ground water–they will protect the area, Reddy added. About four years back, a similar proposal to fence 12,000 hectares of forest land was given to the department, but in vain, he added.

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