BBMP adopts 'plant it, forget it' policy for roadside saplings

Waters them just 4 times a year; now plans to rope in citizens

BBMP adopts 'plant it, forget it' policy for roadside saplings

BBMP forest cell has decided to rope in citizen groups to plant and maintain road side saplings.

The decision comes following criticism that the forest cell is not adequately watering newly planted saplings. On record, the forest cell has ordered its contractors to water saplings just four times a year. But in reality, even this once-in-a-quarter watering is not properly implemented. As a result, a majority of them wither and die.

 Ratna Prabha, assistant conservator of forests, BBMP forest cell, told DH that the contract with the contractor says that they have to water saplings four times a year.

"Last year, the BBMP planted 1.20 lakh saplings, of which 10% did not survive, which is normal,’’ she explains.

Pointing at funds crunch, the officer said the forest cell is not able to pay the contractors. “The BBMP owes us Rs 17 crore over the last four years. Lack of funds could be one of the reasons why the contractors are not able to water saplings,” she said.

Members of Green Bengaluru Campaign (GBC) and residents recently wrote to the BBMP asking officials how frequently  saplings are watered.

Plantation drive

Members of GBC and residents had tied up with the BBMP last year to undertake a plantation drive. With the help of BBMP, they planted around 7,000 saplings in various parts of the city like Koramangala, Jayanagar IV Block, Laggere, Govindarajanagar, Marathahalli, Lakkasandra and Agara. But very few have survived, pointed out M Eshwarappa, a GBC member.

Kshitij Urs, co-convenor, Forum for Urban Governance and Commons, said watering saplings just four times a year is not enough.

Apart from finances, there are also flaws in the planting procedures. The right quality of saplings are not chosen, trenches are not deep enough, the saplings are not filled with gravel, sand, compost and mud properly, the guards and sticks for protection are flimsy.

Though the BBMP maintains that its spends Rs 1,800 per sapling for two years, the result on the ground is not visible. To overcome financial and technical shortcomings, GBC and the BBMP forest cell are joining hands to not only plant saplings, but also maintain them from this year.

 “GBC has written to the BBMP forest cell and the mayor asking the BBMP to tie up with locals and resident welfare associations to plant saplings and maintain them in all 198 wards. The forest cell will discuss this with the mayor to take a final decision,” said another BBMP forest cell official.

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