For sizzling City, the drizzle is still a long way away

Bangalore is losing its reputation of being among the cooler cities in India. Unbridled growth, population explosion of the vehicular kind and concrete behemoths that pass off as infrastructure have, over the years, choked what was once a free breathing city.

But what has dealt the final blow to a city that has long lost its sobriquet ‘Garden City,’ is the rapacious assault on its famed trees and the vanishing water bodies in the recent past.

As many as 8,000 trees have been uprooted in the City by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) so far, for road-widening and the Metrorail project.

The end result has been unsparing dry weather. Due to the declining green cover, even small changes in temperatures will be felt more acutely than the previous years.

The most affected are the road users. Motorists and pedestrians have already started feeling the heat, particularly in areas where tree cover has disappeared.

Dr Harini Nagendra, Urban Ecology Coordinator, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), says trees and tanks absorb a lot of heat in the atmosphere to make the environment cool. But in Bangalore, both trees and tanks are doing a vanishing act.

“Concrete buildings with glass facades and asphalted roads radiate heat. With no trees around to absorb the heat, the hot weather can only get harsher. Trees make the environment cool and humid. Due to their absence, the weather is very dry,” she said.

No tanks, no cooling effect

Harini said water bodies like tanks and lakes keep the atmosphere cool during the day. With water bodies vanishing one by one, due to negligence on the part of the planners, the cooling effect is gone. Hundreds of lakes have dried up in Bangalore in the past 10 years, she added. 

Santosh, a motorist who travels frequently on the Hosur-Lakshar Road, said: “Once it was a pleasure travelling on this stretch with trees giving shade and protection from extreme heat. Now, it is a pain to travel. The less said the better about waiting at traffic signals where there are absolutely no trees.”

The situation can only get worse in the coming days. The Meteorological Department has predicted record high temperatures this summer. B Puttanna, director of the Meteorological Department, says that the temperature will only increase till May.

“Districts in North Karnataka have been recording an average temperature of 39 degree Celsius, while the average temperature in Bangalore is 32 degree Celsius these days. The average temperature will soon reach 35 to 36 degrees. The first monsoon showers are expected only after April 15 and light thunder showers may occur as and when the temperature increases,” he said.

Unable to bear the scorching noons, citizens have started blaming bad development plans by the government.

“Bangalore was so cool some years ago. Now, you cannot step out during the afternoon as it is really very hot. The government says trees have to be axed for development purposes. But we really don’t know for whose development,” lamented Geetha Menon, an activist.

Atul Dev, new to Bangalore, was surprised by the heat. “I thought Bangalore had a beautiful weather. But this dry heat is unbearable. I find difficult even to breathe sometimes,” he said.

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