Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Why can't war memorial, trees co-exist?

Why can't war memorial, trees co-exist?

We're connected to trees, both ethically and culturally. We shouldn't be chopping them

The Karnataka high court's recent judgment giving the green signal for the construction of the National War Memorial at the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park in the city has raised many complex issues. The first question that comes up is whether we are really doing good to our environment by cutting so many old and useful trees.
On the one hand, through this project, we are respecting our martyrs who laid down their lives for us. But on the other, we are also disrespecting our environment by chopping trees, some as old as 100 years.
Some citizens of Bangalore support the first cause and some, the second one. There is a large section of citizens that cares immensely for the trees and the environment. It is not condonable to cut trees because a war memorial can be built in little time, but trees take a very long time, almost decades, to grow.
A war memorial should be designed in such a way that it does not interrupt with the ethos of the country and the environment. If we look at the cultural tradition of India, we have places of worship built around trees. Then why can't we construct a war
memorial under a tree? Yes, a war memorial is something that should enable us to remember and salute our martyrs, but then why should it be something obscenely large requiring destruction?
It is a place where memories can come to the surface and, therefore, should be built in such a way that it sets the right example. We can utilise this crucial space for multiple uses - it can be a garden, which can be thematic, or we can turn it into a park. The other option is to build the war memorial at a place where we do not have to cut down trees.
We need to just look at the past and how our ancestors used to build places of worship. They would put up an idol under a tree. Why can't we follow that? We can build the war memorial under and around existing trees. We can cover it with small plants and make it beautiful.
Trees need to be valued simply because they are too precious. You cannot just wish for a tree and have it suddenly as though from a magician's box. You can create a building in no time because it is a manmade structure. But you cannot wish for a tree overnight. You can redo a building but you can't do the same for a tree. Trees signify
permanence, both ethically and culturally. Trees transcend generations. With the kind of tree cutting happening in Bangalore, the loss of green cover is a major loss. We can't be condoning any more loss of greenery. Trees are an integral part of nature. Trees keep us alive; they are also related to us culturally. Many historical heritages are also linked with trees. It is our responsibility to take care of them so that they do not vanish into the annals of time.


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