Thursday, February 18, 2010

City swelters: 10º hotter without trees

City swelters: 10º hotter without trees

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The Metro Rail authorities' plan to translocate trees to make way for the transit system has come a cropper. All nine trees uprooted from MG Road and planted in Manekshaw Parade Grounds in 2007 have perished.
Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL), how- ever, claims that only six of the translocated trees died in the oper- ation that cost Rs 2.31 lakh.

Upset environmentalists are accusing BMRCL of ignoring their warnings that the old trees would wither away with time if relocated and that the company would be wasting public money in shifting them to Manekshaw Parade Grounds.

Leo Saldanha of the Environment Support Group says the trees were translocated unsci- entifically without a pilot study to look into the viability of the process, although BMRCL had been warned of the consequences.

Former environment secretary A.N. Yellappa Reddy, who was Namma Metro's advisor on the environmental aspects of the pro- ject, says the translocated trees died due to errors in shifting them.

"This was the first experiment of its kind in translocation of trees and the local workers were not very skilled at the job. Initially, the trees seemed healthy but later their roots began to rot and they died.
Translocation needs many precau- tions," he acknowledges.

"It's unfortunate that the city has lost such old trees. We were not very well versed with transloca- tion then. But we have learnt from the experience."


uprooted, left to die With the `Garden City' becoming an IT hub, tree-lined avenues have begun to give way to high- ways and flyovers. But it does not bode well for the pleasant climes Bengaluru is known for, according to a survey conducted by Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environ- ment (ATREE). The find- ings of the `Street tree of Bengaluru: A critical eco- logical and environmental resource' survey conducted between July and August in six places including Hennur Junction on Outer Ring Road, Magadi Road and Mekhri Circle has shown that stretches of roads where trees have been cut off are 10 degree Celsius hotter than those lined with trees.
That is not all. These roads are more polluted, with their levels higher than national standards and have regis- tered a steep rise in the pres- ence of suspended particu- late matter (SPM). On Sar- japur Road, where trees were felled recently to widen roads, the level of sulphur dioxide was 200 per cent higher than the average standard.

Roads with trees were found to be 20 per cent more humid, making it easi- er to tolerate the heat. "The survey proves that trees reduce temperature, increase humidity, absorb sulphur dioxide and remove suspended particulate mat- ter. This survey was, how- ever, conducted in mon- soon. We will be doing a survey again during the peak of summer," said Hari- ni Nagendra, urban ecology coordinator of ATREE, talking at a session held at IISc on Tuesday.

"The city is transitioning to an urban structure domi- nated by roads. With no pol- icy in place on tree planting, there is no clear direction on what kind of trees Bengalu- ru actually needs. The trees that are being planted by BBMP on the streets are short and will change the look of Bengaluru's land- scape for the worse over the next 15 years. Instead, BBMP can plant tamarind and mango trees, which will also yield a certain amount of revenue for the agency," Harini added.


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