The root of the matter

Vanishing trees

The root of the matter

The green cover of the city is disappearing fast.  Many trees across Bengaluru are being felled without proper authorisation. In the light of a recent incident on Outer Ring Road where several trees were poisoned and pruned to ensure a clear view of a hoarding, Bengalureans voice their concerns over how sustaining nature is the need of the hour.

Vinay Srinivasa, a member of ‘Hasiru Usiru’, says that The Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act needs to be strengthened. “An amendment is required to punish people who commit such offences. The Act does have a provision for similar incidents but the punishments should be made more severe,” he says.

Vinay adds that he sees a certain laxity on the BBMP’s part in the way they often let such cases pass. “There needs to be a more focussed approach. The strength of forest officials is also less, when compared to the city’s size,” he says.

Also the BBMP needs to see if they should keep hoardings in the city at all, he adds. “The kind of revenue BBMP expects from such advertisers is never achieved. The need of such hoardings should be evaluated.” Vinay points out that a similar incident happened in Jayanagar 2nd Block, a while back. “Citizens should be conscious about the trees in their locality. There is a need for active ward committees which would help prevent  such vandalism,” he says.

Even as the city celebrates the victorious battle against the now scrapped steel flyover project, nature lovers are confused about what can be done to check the rampant commercialisation of the city, that  is affecting its green cover. Deepak Srinivasan, an artist who has worked on projects based on reclaiming public spaces, says, “Who’s keeping a tab on what  is the question. The authorities indiscriminately cut trees and then put out messages saying ‘Save Green’, which is ironical. There is no public dialogue about how much urban greenery can be forsaken and for what purpose.”

Setting up hoardings in an illegal manner will only bring in negative publicity, says  Manvel Alur, CEO and founder of Environmental Synergies in Development.
“Bengalureans realise the need for an effective green cover.  So entities who cut down trees, get them uprooted or poison them, should realise that they will only garner bad publicity,” she adds, pointing out that citizen activism is strong in areas like Koramangala, JP Nagar, Jayanagar and Palace Road.

She says, “Similar cases have happened in Koramangala. Sometimes, the citizens have brought them to task and the perpetrators promise to plant trees. But this doesn’t always happen.”

Manvel also says that striking a balance between urbanisation and ecology is much needed. “For this the authorities need to be more involved and vigilant. They need to know what trees to protect and sustain and what trees need to be planted.”

Echoing the concerns, Suresh Heblikar, environmentalist, says that trees can be cut down when they become hazardous for vehicular movement or even when they are really old. “But the reasons need to be well evaluated. Around 10 to 15 percent of the trees that existed in Jayanagar have been pulled down due to hoardings,” he says.

Suresh says that it is important to understand the bio-diversity of the city before planting more trees. “They will take years to grow back,” he says.

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