Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lalbagh to lose trees for a ‘Sentosa’ look

Lalbagh to lose trees for a ‘Sentosa’ look
P M Raghunandan, Bangalore, May 24, DHNS:

It is a perfect case of the fence eating the crop. The Horticulture Department, which shoulders the responsibility of protecting and preserving Lalbagh Gardens, is set to axe the precious green cover in the State’s only botanical gardens.

In its zeal to emulate Singapore’s famous Sentosa Island, the department will chop off nearly 10 full-grown trees to make way for a musical fountain and a laser show. However, the department has kept this fact under wraps, fearing protests. Even Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has not been informed about the need for cutting the trees for the project, it is said.

As per the blueprint of the project prepared by the department, a copy of which is available with Deccan Herald, the proposed musical fountain will come up on the foot of the Kempe Gowda monolithic in front of the Cacti House inside the garden.

An artificial pond, measuring 100/40 ft, will be constructed at this location to put up the fountain. This place is presently covered by nearly 20 trees, and at least 10 of them are planned to be cleared. The project is aimed at entertaining visitors through the fountain and the laser show, which will depict the history of Bangalore.

Rock garden

The total cost of the proposed fountain and the laser show is estimated at Rs 27.05 crore. The department simultaneously wants to develop a rock garden on the Kempe Gowda monolithic at the cost of Rs 29.30 crore. The plan is to ensure that people watch the laser show sitting on the proposed rock garden. The department’s plan has come close on the heels of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation cutting over a dozen trees for the metro rail project. The garden shrunk by 350 metres and lost 15 trees as a result.

The Lalbagh Botanical gardens, developed partially in 1760 by Hyder Ali and completed by his son Tipu Sultan, is spread across 240 acres. It is a veritable treasure house of plants. Nearly 673 genera and 1,854 species of plants are found in Lalbagh.

Besides, the gardens house several species of birds. A laser show is bound to disturb the night life of birds. Now, there is space to park 350 four-wheelers. If more activities are held, then there is will be more visitors and vehicles to pollute the gardens.

The chief minister okayed the project during his recent visit to Lalbagh. According to official sources, soon after securing the chief minister’s nod, the department quickly placed the project proposal before the state Cabinet seeking its approval.

“The Cabinet note does not have any details of the project. In fact, the detailed project report is yet to be prepared. The department on its own prepared a rough estimate of the entire project, including the cost, and placed it before the Cabinet,” sources pointed out.

The Cabinet on Monday approved a Rs 84 crore project, including the proposed musical fountain and rock garden, to give a facelift to Lalbagh botanical garden. Announcing this to reporters, Home Minister V S Acharya said the Bangalore Development Authority has been entrusted with the implementation of the musical fountain and rock garden with the assistance of the Horticulture Department.

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