Green projects are also under threat

It’s not just the buildings and infrastructure on the Bangalore university campus that are victims of mismanagement. Even some projects, which would have immensely helped in conserving and maintaining the gene pool of rare plant species from the Western Ghats, have met the same fate.

The Department of Environmental Sciences (DES) had undertaken conservation of rare and endangered plants on the campus. A huge patch of land adjacent to the department was identified for the project funded by the Department of Biotechnology in 2002-2003.
Initiated by Dr Somashekar, the then chairperson of DES, the project was almost a success till recently when a fire destroyed an entire collection of plans from the Western Ghats.

According to the department sources, the project was aimed at conserving rare endangered plants. A greenhouse had been set up and plants were raised through tissue culture, with a financial assistance of Rs 1.25 crore from the Union Department of Biotechnology. A borewell was sunk for the exclusive use of the greenhouse and the entire place was fenced. But negligence has allowed the project to rot.

Another project by DES to protect and improve wild mango (Appe midi) varieties of the Western Ghats, especially from the Uttara Kannada, is also in ruins. More than a thousand saplings of 102 varieties of rare mangoes were planted behind the quarters of the vice chancellor within the premises in 2008.

 The potential gene bank was an initiative of environmentalist A N Yellappa Reddy and Dr Nandini, professor, DES. These unique plants, named after places and rivers they were collected from by farmers in Uttara Kannada, sustained thousands of families in the district.

“The department was focusing on genetic mapping, assessing its morphological characters and its nutrient qualities. We even had a mango creeper. But all these have been lost due to lack of care,” said Nandini.

A collection of aromatic plants and a bonsai garden have followed suit. Interestingly, all these are just a stone’s throw away from the vice chancellor’s quarters.

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