Thursday, May 27, 2010

TREES NOW STUMPS!

TREES NOW STUMPS!


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Public outrage, PILs and expert advice have failed to deter Bengaluru's civic authorities from chopping down more trees. On Wednesday, another old tree was axed to make way for an underpass at Tagore Circle which will claim 73 more trees. While residents of the area are uspet as BBMP is going ahead with the project without taking their opposition into account, the civic body says they are helpless as work on the underpass was started in March 2010, reports Shilpa P. The underpass is being built in violation of the high court order that there must be a public consultation before any infrastructure project is launched in the city. This is also required under the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act.

VINAY SRINIVASA OF HASIRU USIRU We held a meeting with the people of the area recently.
But as the project has already started, it cannot be stopped. We can only hope that it will be completed on time.

KATTE SATHYA, Area corporator The project will change the face of Basavanagudi and Gandhi Bazaar, which represent old Bengaluru. All we needed here was a traffic signal and not an underpass. As the road is now set to become signal-free people will no longer be able to walk to Gandhi Bazaar to buy vegetables or for other reasons.

SUMATHI NAGENDRA, Resident of Basavangudi

People may be cry ing themselves hoarse in protest and a traffic expert may have good reason to argue against it, but the authorities seem determined to go ahead with building yet another underpass and destroying more of the city's green cover. On Wednesday, it was the turn of a 50-yearold tree, Pelto Forum, to be brought down to make way for the Tagore Circle underpass in Basavangudi, which will claim 73 trees in all, while it is being built. A rain tree and several others that have provided the people shade here for years, are in line to be cut for the underpass, which no one wants.
But BBMP says the protests have come a little too late. "We started the project two months ago and the people began to object to it only after the work began.
We will cut all the trees in the next four months," says deputy conservator of forests, BBMP, Puttaswamy M.

The underpass which is set to change the face of Basavanagudi and Gandhi Bazaar, is proving very unpopular with the locals as they don't see any need for it. Rather than making their lives easier, it will only inconvenience those accustomed to taking their evening and morning walks under the shade of the trees, they say.

Traffic advisor to the government M.N Srihari, who has come out with a report against building the underpass, says it makes sense to build one only in areas where the traffic volume is 10,000 passenger car units per hour.
"When the traffic on this road is less than 5,000 passenger car units (pcus) per hour, why should an underpass be built here at all," he asks. In his view even a traffic signal is not called for at the spot. "A traffic light is required on roads where the traffic volume is 8,000 pcus per hour.
But as the traffic here is not this heavy, you don't need a signal here and certainly not an underpass," he argues.

The protestors and experts feel like they are beating against a brick wall, which refuses to give way as BBMP shows no signs of giving up its plans of building the underpass under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) at a cost of Rs 20 crore. The project which began in March 2010 has an 18 months deadline.

Sumathi Nagendra, who lives in Basavangudi, says the locals have approached BBMP, the government and even Union urban development minister Jaipal Reddy to register their protest against the underpass, but no one seems to be listening.
"If this underpass is built we will lose a part of Tagore Park and Krishna Rao Park," she laments. "The authorities are helping no one by building an underpass at this junction. Instead it will inconvenience a lot of our senior citizens and schools and college students, who use the road," says Vinay Sreenivasa, a member of Hasiru Usiru. Area corporator, Katte Sathya, says its too late to stop the project.
"All we can hope for is that it will be completed on time," he adds.

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