Thursday, August 13, 2009

Govt's green talk bears fruit

Govt's green talk bears fruit

Every time greens protest against felling of trees, civic authorities keep saying they are planting saplings which make citizens wonder where they are being planted. Odeal D'Souza and Vaishalli Chandra study three spots to find the truth

Odeal D'Souza and Vaishalli Chandra



As the city expands, there is a scramble for space and the most unfortunate loser is the green cover that we wipe clear to make way for parks, glass buildings and housing apartments.
The central city has seen lovely rain trees chopped off, but on the city's outskirts, the forest department is slowly and quietly doing their bit to bring back the green cover.
When trees were felled on Seshadri Road, about 21 full-grown healthy ones were transplanted to a government site located near the ESI Hospital in Indiranager. The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is planning to plant 500 more samplings on the road side, says ER Ravindra, BBMP's forest range officer for north.
Transplant is often regarded as a better option than felling. However, officials point out that most trees do not grow after transplantation. Moreover, transplantation is quite expensive. A JCB and crane are needed for the process. Even if the transplant is to a nearby area, it costs Rs10,000 to Rs15,000. The cost of transplantation increases if the tree has to be transported to a distant location. The cost then could be anywhere between Rs30,000 and Rs35,000.
The government has not allotted any transplantation sites so far in the city. The range officers of BBMP go around and find suitable places for transplanting. Government sites are usually selected as water can be easily arranged to these sites. NGOs have not tied with the government for this purpose. It is solely done by the BBMP. Planting of the samplings is usually done on the road sides.
Officials are not planting new rain tree saplings due to space constraint. "The name suggests they are rain trees but by nature they have no connection with rains," says Ravindra.
Saplings of diminutive, shade-giving trees are chosen to avoid their felling in the future. Among the varieties chosen are legestroemia slocerginae (hole dasavera), honge, and mimosophelangi (ranjal).
These saplings planted under electric lines will grow to about 15 ft while others grow up to 20ft or 25ft. Officials say the process of planting saplings is slow as they have to wait until works related to roads, electric lines, drains, and lamps are completed.
"We are taking steps slowly to ensure that the saplings planted will bring back the green cover," says R Suresh, range forest officer of Bytranpura-Yehlanka. About 147 saplings have been planted on the Yehlanka-Puttenhalli stretch where he lives. Some flowering trees have been planted on the roadside for aesthetic appeal.
Unscientific pruning of trees during monsoon often causes them damage. To avoid this, officials are planting saplings of Singapore cherry, a fruit- and flower-bearing shade tree. These saplings can be found below electric lines and in residential areas. They grow up to 10feet high and will not interfere with electric lines.
The success of transplantation depends on the age of the tree, species and whether the tree is able to adjust to the soil at the new location. Some plant (tree) species are not suitable for transplantation as they do not take root in a new location.
Officials point out that they are monitoring the health of the planted saplings. While they have workers to take care of the saplings by watering them regularly, the officials want the local residents too to chip in.
"We get calls from people saying saplings have not been watered. We're happy to receive their inputs. However, we request the residents to at least water the saplings in front of their homes," says an official.
They feel the residents also need to take the responsibility of protecting the saplings.

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