Iconic Big Banyan Tree under threat

Iconic Big Banyan Tree under threat

Proposal to expand its area gathers dust as motorists cut sprawling branches

Iconic Big Banyan Tree under threat

The Big Banyan Tree (Dodda Aalada Mara) off Mysuru Road in western Bengaluru is more than 400 years old and still going strong. Motorists, however, get annoyed by its branches which now sprawl along the roadside and obstruct traffic. They have cut the branches to clear way. 

But the Horticulture Department, which looks after the tree, says it is unable to do anything about the move which may harm the popular, giant tree. The offenders have gone scot-free. The Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, too, has expressed helplessness, saying the tree has not been given heritage status despite its age. 

Gavisiddaiah, deputy director, Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, said there was no proposal to grant heritage status to the tree. The same is the case with the Big Banyan Tree in T Narsipur, Mysuru district. A senior official in the Horticulture Department said the tree’s prop roots were restricted to the fence, but its branches were sprawling along the roadside that connects Mysuru Road and Magadi Road. Government and private bus drivers find it difficult to navigate the road and have cut the branches off. 

The tree’s fenced area is 8,793.14 square metres and its outer area 10,826.11 square metres. All trees are protected under the Karnataka Forest Tree Preservation Act. The Big Banyan Tree is maintained by the Horticulture Department but the Forest Department has to permit cutting off the tree branches as per the law. “We will look into the matter. So far, no complaints have come to us. We will take action against the violators,” a forest official said. 

Last year, the Horticulture Department submitted a proposal to the state government seeking permission to buy land for expansion of the fast-growing tree. But there has been little progress since. 

“We need to immediately acquire up to 2.5 acres of land,” a horticulture official said. The department had formed a committee to speed up the process, which is yet to inspect the site and clear the proposal. Surveyors estimate the price of an acre at Rs 28 lakh. But local residents are unlikely to part with their land since the area around the tree is seeing rapid real estate development and the land prices are going up. “The delay is only going to harm the tree since 30-50 prop roots grow ever year,” the official said. According to the official, one side of the tree juts out into the main road while the remaining three sides are flanked by private land and nurseries which can be acquired.  

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