BBMP on mission to locate free saplings on streets

BBMP on mission to locate free saplings on streets

BBMP Forest Officers and activists plant saplings to compensate for dead trees, were trees are poisoned on the trunk for providing clear view of the advertisement hoarding at Outer Ring Road, Marathalli in Bengaluru on Monday. Photo by S K Dinesh

Tell us what have you done with the free sapling that you got from our nursery. This is the question that officials of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike's (BBMP) forest cell will ask all those who took the saplings. 

Put simply, the civic body wants to check if citizens have planted the saplings. The exercise springs from concern about the rapidly dwindling greenery in the city. "We invest Rs 40 to Rs 120 on a sapling, but people take it for free from our nurseries," said a BBMP forest cell official. "We've taken down their details but haven’t checked what they did with the saplings. They make big promises (about tree planting), but a tour around the city shows there's nothing on the ground." 

He said the first-of-a-kind exercise would both be feedback and a survey, besides being the tree census which the civic body has been planning for several years. 

"Every farmer raises the saplings with a lot of care. They shouldn't be used just once and thrown away. We want to ensure the saplings are utilised fully," the official added. 

The sapling check comes at a time when the civic body has drawn a blank in its afforestation efforts for 2018-19, while it had planted 1.2 lakh saplings the year before. With no detail on the survival rate of the saplings, the BBMP needs Rs 5 crore this fiscal year for a fresh planting drive. 

Citizens are sceptical about the initiative. "Their proposal to green the median strips has been a failure. So, how can they question us," Sudha M asked.