Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Park memorial starts war of words

● ● The Indira Gandhi Musi- cal Fountain was once part of Cubbon Park before the construction of the Vid- hana Soudha.

● ● Mango trees dating back to the 18th century are still found in the musical foun- tain park today. Scientists have tried developing a mango variety using the seeds from these trees.

● ● The park’s inviting tree cover draws a large variety of birds, which would van- ish if it lost its precious green cover.

Bengaluru, April 12: People of the city find themselves torn between their sense of patriotism and their concern for the city’s fast depleting green cover over the government’s decision to install a war memorial in the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain park. But for environmentalists cutting trees in yet another park for whatever reason is a clear no no, considering the amount of green cover the city has lost over the last few years to the Metro Rail, flyovers and subways.
They are afraid that the park, which is home to mango trees dating back to the late 18th century, may lose more of its green cover than is being disclosed by the authorities to make way for the war memorial.

“The decision to install the memorial in the park has been taken in violation of the Karnataka Parks, Play Fields and Open Spaces Act, 1984 and the Karnataka Park Preservation Act. The

issue is not about losing a few trees. If a memorial is allowed in one park, it could open the floodgates for more such projects in parks all over the city,” warns Vinay Srinivasan, a member of Hasiru Usiru.
“When we oppose cutting of trees we are labelled anti-development, but this is not true. We understand that trees need to be felled to make way for the Metro Rail and for wider roads.

But at least trees in parks should be spared,” says senior bureaucrat turned environmentalist Yellappa Reddy, pointing out that trees capture noise and dust, making the micro climate around them much cooler than elsewhere.

Cutting of trees in the park will only worsen the noise and pollution on Raj Bhavan Road and Planetarium Road, which see a tremendous amount of traffic during the day, he contends , urging the government to reconsider its decision and

install the memorial elsewhere.
Environmentalist Suresh Heblikar, who echoes his views, suggests the memorial should be installed in the nearby Freedom Park.

“We all respect war memorials , but they should not be set up at the cost of trees. The park already has several theme based blocks where solar and wind energy production models are on display for study by students. More structures in its grounds will only take away from its green ambience,” Mr Heblikar argues.

Mr Vinay Srinivasan feels the government is not doing its job of preserving trees in the city actively enough. “It is doing little to stop the cutting of trees on private property, where they are removed for silly reasons.

And no one seems to care about the rule that if a tree is uprooted in one area, it has to replaced by an identical species in the same locality,” he laments.

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