Ban may help restore 'shrunken green cover'

The decision of the State government to ban all commercial activities at the Palace Grounds has brought cheers for some environmentalists as the move may ensure protection of the precious lung space in the bustling Bangalore.

An empowered committee to conduct an environmental impact study in 2009-10 had decried the increasing commercial activities at the Palace Grounds. Two years on, Dr Nandini, Head of the Department of Environmental Science, Bangalore University, who prepared the study report, is elated the ‘balancing act’ of banning commercial activities except marriages on the 475-acre land.

Nandini told Deccan Herald that the proposed ban will help save ‘the already shrunken green cover’ at the Grounds. “We cannot dream of another lung space as massive as this, and that too in the heart of the City. We need to protect what we have in our hand,” Nandini said.

In her report, Nandini had stated: “The satellite imagery of the Palace Grounds confirms the grim reality of the environmental catastrophe of the area.”

Dwelling into the details, sectorwise, the report points out that the middle west sector, stretching 250m long and 400m wide, is less devastated than the first two sectors. Half the sector is under tree canopy, but increasing commercial activities are a threat to the floral diversity of the area.

The Supreme Court in 2001 had made specific recommendations to the State government on granting lease, by asking the government to ensure “the use to which the portion/property is to be put, will not result in any violations...that it will not lead to any deleterious effect upon other structures, land and the greenery within the Palace Grounds.”

However, Nandini’s report had mentioned several instances of environmental degradation which were against the SC directions.

“The Fun World sector, occupying about 15 acres, is completely degraded of natural tree canopy. This entertainment hub with water sports activity and car park has played havoc with the earlier natural tree cover,” observes the report.

Since the Grounds was opened for commercial activities by members of the Palace, the ecological disaster has outweighed the economic gains, the report said. Sticking to her stand, two years later, Dr Nandini said it is of utmost importance to ensure that the government adheres to its decision for protecting the green cover. The environmental deterioration of the Palace Grounds must be stopped immediately with an action plan for environmental restoration and preservation of forests on the premises, she said.

In her recommendations, Nandini had suggested that the government must declare the Grounds as a vital lung space for thousands of people living in the immediate surroundings by giving the Grounds a ‘heritage/cultural site’ tag.

Perhaps, more importantly, the government appears to have adhered to her recommendation that: “All commercial, industrial and service activities within all sectors of the premises should be banned so that the pristine ecology of the zone is protected and preserved. These activities can be moved out and given designated places on the outskirts of the metropolis.”

Nandini said the government action will help in leading the way to protect the greenery and ensure that the growing population in North Bangalore will have a dedicated space to breathe.

Comments (+)