Saturday, November 03, 2007

Epitaph to the greens

Epitaph to the greens
Biju Cherayath
Today several individuals make the initiative to preserve the trees in their vicinity, but for those who still need to be educated in this policy of live and let live we need to get vigilant and raise our voices in protest.


Bangalore – 'the garden city' of India. Seems like this is very soon going to be a nostalgic memory for all of us who holds this city dear. I still remember Davis road in the early morning mist, sunlight streaming down through the jacaranda trees that lined the road.

The trees shedding their blue bells to create a floral carpet and the diffused sunlight transforming it into magical shades of violet.The canopy of jacaranda and gulmohar – all created patterns on the road which gave the road a mystic look. If you approached the road from Richards Town park, it was a truly breath-taking picture. As a child growing up in the Cooke town area I used to think that it looked like a scene from a fairy tale book with the road canopied by stately trees and banglows .

Disappearing trees

Twenty-five years later, it is a different picture we see all over the city, the trees that were once the crowning glory of Bangalore are facing threat everyday. Trees that have a 100 years of history are felled to make way for apartments, highways and road widening.

We, as individuals helplessly stand by and watch our favourite trees disappearing on a daily basis. I remember a favourite tree of mine on North Road, a majestic gulmohar. The tree covered a large property which today is Wideremere apartments.

The tree that must have taken more than a 100 years to grow to that size and a truly breathtaking sight in full bloom. It was felled in less than one day. There is no epitaph for those who came later to live in the apartments, to even pay respects to the tree that gave its life for the families who came to live there. I have a painting to remember it by, done in 1986 when the tree was in full bloom and that was the last summer the majestic tree was seen.

Flora and fauna

Most Bangaloreans would have their own stories to add to the list of favourite trees, who to us are almost personal friends. Now at a time when the whole world is protecting the remnants of a once abundant heritage of flora and fauna, we actually have individuals who still want to blatantly destroy it! All children did their first drawing of a house with a garden, a tree and a path leading to the front door. And we spend the rest of our lives trying to make it a reality.

A tree in front of the house has several advantages. It has a tremendous cooling effect on the house. It filters out a lot of the dust and sound from reaching the house. It increases the oxygen supply in the air and reduces the level of carbon dioxide (pollution from exhaust fumes is mainly carbon dioxide).

A tree adds visual relief to the otherwise angular lines of the building. It could help in teaching children about seasons. Fruit trees have a complete biological cycle which is very interesting to follow, Flowering trees have a lot of visual appeal. It rejuvenates and destresses the eyes by looking at greenery after long stretches of staring at the computer or TV. Vaastu and Feng Shui believe certain trees bring in positive energy to the house.

Tree sacrifice

I am sure even the ideal house has an ideal facade but does it have to be at the expense of a tree, is it a must to murder a tree to make your dream come true. The concept of a tree sacrifice seems so barbaric and unnecessary. A tree could add so much to a house. People are becoming insensitive to environment and just as there is a law to protect people there should be equally strict laws to protect trees.

The electricity department have a responsibility to maintain the electric cables so they are forced to prune the trees to a certain level. Even they always avoid actually cutting down the complete tree. In the name of likes and dislikes, individuals should not be allowed to cut trees.

They should try to have architectural options by which they should try to save the tree. Today several individuals make the initiative to preserve the trees in their vicinity, but for those who still need to be educated in this policy of live and let live we need to get vigilant and raise our voices in protest.

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