BDA's green plan will harm grassland

a Slice of paradise:  The 300-acre grassland in Hesaraghatta where BDA wants to plant saplings. Photo/Mahesh Bhat

The area was initially owned by the Karnataka Film Industrial Development Corporation and was later handed over to Kanteerva Studios, which has been accused by residents and visitors of dirtying the place during their shoots.

However, the BDA has an interesting conspiracy theory to explain the resident opposition to the planting of saplings. While terming the issue raised by “so-called” environmentalists “meaningless”, sources in the BDA said: “The film studio will have increased costs if the location changes from a grassland to one where there are trees. Thus, the hue and cry. Residents and a few wildlife experts have joined hands with the studio so that the ‘shooting location’ can be maintained.”

Mahesh Bhat, a resident and a wildlife photographer, dismisses BDA’s theory saying: “People ask us what is wrong with BDA planting trees. But they do not understand that the place chosen is simply wrong.”

He explains that from November to February hundreds of exotic birds migrate from Europe, Eastern and Central Asia, America and other extreme ends of the world and make the grasslands their home. Therefore, it is important to protect these grasslands.

“Unfortunately, the Wildlife Protection Act in our country does not accord much importance to migratory birds, nor do the grasslands have a tag that classifies them as protected areas,” he laments.

The second part of the argument finds resonance in the report submitted by the Grasslands and Deserts Task Force constituted by the Planning Commission in 2006. “Grasslands and deserts are the most neglected ecosystems by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Despite their great importance, there is still no grassland development and grazing policy in the country,” it had said.

While the BDA planting saplings around the Hesaraghatta Lake has been praised, actions of the BDA inside the grasslands cannot be fought until proof of species listed under Wildlife Protection Act is shown in the court, says advocate B R Deepak. “Find me proof and I will take it up and ensure that BDA stops destroying the eco system.”

Biodiversity expert, Harish Bhat has proof. Peacocks under Schedule one; Indian fox under Schedule two; babblers, drongols, doves, pipits, muniyas, owls, quails and many more listed under various schedules are regular visitors to the grassland at Hesaraghatta.

Harish Bhat adds that the attitude of the Forestry department officers was also not helpful. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests B K Singh dismisses the issue, saying: “The birds will find a new place. They need trees anyway. This is only changing the habitat, not destroying it.”

But Harish retorts: “The birds will not lose us or miss us. We will lose them. Bangalore will miss its last bit of bio diverse lands.”

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