Sunday, February 07, 2010

Bonsai donor and Lalbagh at odds

Bonsai donor and Lalbagh at odds
Satish Shile, Bangalore, Feb 6, DH News Service:

Like the dwarf trees that comprise it, the bonsai park at Lal Bagh refuses to grow.

Set up eight years, the park which comprises the collection of the dwarf trees donation by Bonsai Srinivas, an enthusiast, has remained stunted even after eight years.

The inordinate delay in realising his dream project, coupled with the State government’s failure to keep up its promises has disillusioned Srinivas who regrets his act to hand over the plants to the government.

Srinivas is an acknowledged aficionado of bonsai, the art of growing trees on trays and keeping them dwarfed. He developed a huge collection and in 2002, donated it to Bangalore Garden Trust, a body under Horticulture Department.

The trust had orally assured him a bonsai park would be set up in 2.5 acres. Besides, he would get a monthly honorarium of Rs 15,000 and a resolution was passed to this effect.

Did not materialise

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was to be signed by Srinivas and the trust but it did not materialise. One of the conditions of the was that the park should be named after his parents - H S Seetharam and Rathnamma. Seetharam was mayor of Bangalore.
The trust has stopped paying Srinivas the honorarium since August 2006 without an explanation. During his visit to the US in 2006 Srinivas met with an accident, which required surgery and take rest for many months.

“I could not follow up the issue because of health reasons,” he said. Many plants he donated to the government were 35 to 40 years old. Although an American firm had, had estimated the worth of his collections at Rs 2.5 crore for insurance purpose, he did not expect money for his collection from the government.

Srinivas expressed the apprehension that many of the trees were being stolen from the park. The government did not even made an inventoryof his plants. Horticulture Department director N Jayaram has denied Srinivas’s allegations. He said the government had assessed the worth of the plants, while accepting them for the department, at Rs 5.25 lakh. So far, he had already received Rs six lakh as honorarium.

Not turned up

“The honorarium was given for his advice to maintain the park. For the last two-three years, he had not turned up to the park to advise on maintenance,”, he said.
Further, he said the department had not agreed to name the park after his parents. No resolution was passed in this regard.

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