Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Don't blame the trees

Don't blame the trees
By S G Neginhal
Deccan Herald

If one were careful to observe Bangalore city’s trees and other vegetation in the months of March-April and again now in the month of May one would have seen the dust laden dirty trees in the summer and the lush green foliage that the trees are adorning now. The reason for this is very simple, though imperceptible.

The trees were carrying the city dust, running into several tones, on their foliage in the dusty months of March and April, which was washed down to the ground below the trees during the rains of May.

So one of the functions of the city’s trees is of collecting the flying dust and depositing it to the soil later in the rainy season.

There are several other useful functions of the urban trees like keeping down the city temperatures by 3-4 celsius, reducing solar radiation, glare, sound levels, absorbing the poisonous gases like carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and so on.

Bangalore metropolis is still very green compared to other major metropolities in our country, thanks to the rich heritage of trees that have been planted over the years. The diwans such as Mirza Ismail and the Municipal Corporation and the B.D.A. were contributors in tree planting works done earlier in the city which was later immensely augmented by the Forest Department from 1982 onwards.

Of late it has been a fashion to blame the trees for any mishaps occurring in the city whenever the monsoon commences in the season, for any civil defaults of the Municipalities and the Bescom.

Sensibly the trees are not blamed for any post-monsoon hazards occurring in our other metropolities like Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai.

Recently BESCOM reported that the rains and high velocity winds damaged 260 electric poles and three transformers in the city, and the culprit in the majority of cases were the trees.

If a realistic outlook is taken of the so called tree-related mishaps taking place in the city, it is seen that the city administrations are at the root of these hazards taking place.

While repairing or re-doing the road-pavement works, the roots of the trees are loosened, trimmed or cut to lay the pavement – stones, concrete slabs and so on or the pavement is dug to redo the surfacing.

In doing this work the roots that serve to anchor the trees are either loosened or cut off, which weekens the holding capacity of the trees that fall off in the gusty winds for which the trees are blamed but not the road and pavement repairers and the BESCOM's men constantly chopping the trees.

The electric poles are also not properly fixed in the ground. Moreover the poles are put into naked earth by simply digging pits and not concreting them.

Of course, some older trees of over a half century age also fall down, which is quite natural. But to blame the trees alone for the mishaps is most unreasonable and unrealistic.

Instead we should try to save and keep as many trees as possible in the city to reduce pollution. We should remember trees are our saviours and not destructors.

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