Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Local warming: City needs its own environment policy

Local warming: City needs its own environment policy
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The sweltering heat that has set in before the onset of summer is on the lips of every Bangalorean, while he wipes the sweat off his brows. Owing to the degradation of its environment, this burgeoning metropolis has seen one of the hottest Februarys in its history this year.

While the mercury shot up to an all-time high of 35.9 degrees Celsius on February 16, the heat has become unbearable since. The epithet ‘‘Air-conditioned City’’ is proving to be a misnomer as the city is boiling in the cauldron of urbanisation.

Thanks to the erosion of the green cover, explosion in vehicular traffic and host of other civic problems multiplying in tandem with the rapid growth of population, Bangalore is literally losing its cool.

While it is almost impossible to reverse some of these ill-effects, it is possible however, to contain the on-going damage to the city’s biosphere.

Though commendable efforts are being made to protect eco-systems in the endangered Western Ghats and other forests, little attention has been paid to protect this city’s delicate atmosphere.

Bangalore is growing haphazardly and the famed lung spaces and lakes that kept the city cool are being mercilessly cut or encroached upon to make way for new layouts. This, with scant regard to the High Court order that two new trees have to be planted for every one felled.

It is time for a separate strategy to beat the heat. A comprehensive plan to be drafted jointly by the Forest Department, Bangalore City Corporation, Bangalore Development Authority and other stakeholders is needed to restore the city’s famed salubrious climate.

While planting trees is one achievable measure, checking indiscriminate growth is another. The need of the hour is an exclusive environment policy for the Bangalore biosphere that is rich and unique in many ways.

Existing environment laws have to be enforced strictly and given more teeth. Fines should be prohibitive, jail terms be made mandatory in cases of severe violation.

One recalls with passion a now retired ‘‘Green Judge’’ of the High Court for his landmark judgments favouring the conservation of the city’s greenery. The only way to beat the heat is such passion for preservation.


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