Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Tree count stunted as BCC falls silent on funds

Tree count stunted as BCC falls silent on funds
New INdian Express

BANGALORE: The city tree census undertaken by the Forest department last year has hit a roadblock as the Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) has suddenly turned deaf to the department’s request for funds.

A tree census is necessary as, ironically, nobody in the garden city including the Forest Department, knows how many trees there are and the frequency of occurrence of species.

‘‘We have no clue. There is no baseline data. We keep planting trees and others keep chopping them down. We are unable to calculate the annual percentage increase or decrease, ’’ said Deputy Conservator of Forests V. Rangaswamy with the genuine concern of a tree lover.

According to him, an estimated Rs. 10 lakh is needed for the entire effort and this amount was promised by BCC earlier. ‘‘Now we are not sure if the current BCC administration will give us the money. A majority of the trees in the city are owned by BCC and local bodies. We are not sure if we should proceed on our own without BCC’s involvement,’’ he added.

Most of the money is need for the galvanised iron plates that are used for the identification, numbering and display of other botanical data on the tree trunk. The department had earlier trained and employed student volunteers for the task to cut costs. Lack of response from the BCC is stalling this vital project.

The Forest Department began the census in mid-2004 and carried it out for two-and-half months as it had been assured funds for the endeavour by the then BCC Commissioner M.R. Srinivas Murthy. After K. Jothiramlingam took over the reins, there has been no reaffirmation of the commitment made by his predecessor. The Forest Department, which had stopped the census for six weeks owing to heavy rains, has been unable to pick up from where it left off.

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