Saturday, July 10, 2004

Concrete jungle threatens more

Concrete jungle Vs reserve green
Saturday July 10 2004 10:30 New Indian Express
BANGALORE: The city’s explosive geographical expansion is threatening the reserve forests just outside the aglomeration area.

The Forest Department is fighting a hard and exhausting battle, trying to save the 3,086.42 hectares of reserve forestland that is home to several plant species and wildlife.

According to B.M. Parameshwara, deputy conservator of Forests, Bangalore (Urban), the department is faced with the challenge of protecting its patches of reserve forest that lie within 18-20 km from the aglomeration area.

These forests are spread over five ranges - Anekal, Kaggalipura, K.R. Puram, Bangalore North and Yelahanka and account for just 1.97 per cent of the total geographical area of the city.

But the exponential growth of the city and the consequent rise of new residential localities is threatening this tiny yet vital green cover.

Parameshwara said that in the recent past, the department had cleared over 106 hectares of encroachments, either through court cases or summary evictions.

However, real estate developers who buy privately owned land around these forest patches are aggressively forming layouts around these areas. ‘‘The sital value in these areas is higher because of the green cover and clean air. Some areas like Banashankari VI stage that is coming up around the Turalligudda reserve forest will eventually turn the forest into an island in the midst of a concrete jungle,’’ he added.

The concern is not just for the flora and fauna of these forests. But for their entire eco-system. Parameshwara said that some of these patches are rich in their biodiversity. They are home to many smaller wildlife like jackals, hares, snakes, wild boar, pangolin and countless species of birds.

Though most of the forest is scrub jungle, there is an elephant corridor around Bannerghatta and leopards have been regularly sighted in the Yelahanka range.

Parameshwara said that though the forestland in his jurisdiction remained untouched due to stringent Central legislation, the department was largely unsuccessful in controlling the urbanisation occurring in the vicinity of these forests.

Among the several ill effects that could result from such mindless growth is air pollution in these delicate eco-systems as a result of vehicular traffic on the periphery. Besides, all other forms of human intrusion into the habitat could cause imbalance.

But what is feared is that the groundwater and soil of these areas could get contaminated and depleted leaving the flora and fauna, the original inhabitants of these forests, nothing to survive on.


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