Monday, February 22, 2010

City balding? But it WAS bald!

ity balding? But it WAS bald!
Bangalore, Feb 21, DHNS:

For citizens complaining about their City becoming barren and bald by losing its greenery, there is an interesting factoid: Bangalore was barren and bold two centuries ago.

The trees that are being felled to make way for the Metro were planted by the British for providing fuel in the form of charcoal for their railway system in the Madras Presidency, according to Dr Sashi Sivaramakrishna.

Presenting a paper: “Pre-Cantonment Bangalore c. 1800: Some Environmental and Economic Inferences from Francis Buchanan’s Journey and other Sources”, at a national seminar here on the urban growth of Bangalore with special reference to Bangalore Cantonment (1809-2009), Ramakrishna said evidence did not indicate much greenery in Bangalore before the British began developing the City as their garrison.

“The City was stated to be an arid and barren area before the colonial era. It was given a green canopy by the British and now the same green cover is being lost for developmental works. Bangalore has its ups and downs, and this too (green cover) will move up in the future,” Dr. Sivaramakrshna told the media on the sidelines of the seminar. Comparing the sketches of Bangalore of late 1800s by Home, a artist, and the current photographs of the City, Sivaramakrishna noted that the sketches did not depict the green cover currently seen.

“It was only during the 19th century that the British started to plant trees within the limits of today’s Greater Bangalore,” said the scholar.

Landscaping measure

Sivaramakrishna observed that the planting of trees was more of a need-based measure than for a landscaping purpose.

“The British were using the wood to create charcoal for the Railway system. In order to feed these trains they started to plant saplings within the City limits,” he said. Records in his possession show that the British had planted trees in an area of 542 sq km within Bangalore limits.

The Garden City and Cubbon Park were green spaces that were cultivated by the Europeans as a buffer between the Bangalore of “natives” and the Cantonment which was the base for the British troops.

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