Monday, May 30, 2005

Weak roots, rules erase greenery

Weak roots, rules erase greenery
Practice Of Axing Dangerous Trees Not Complete
The Times of India

Bangalore: Why does Bangalore face extreme casualty in its green cover everytime it pours? Are the estimated 10 lakh trees in the city capable of withstanding the gusty wind. The Times of India did a reality check.

The Garden City has a number of flowering trees, most of them softwood trees with shallow roots like bright red-coloured Gulmohur, Spathodia, yellow-coloured Dalichanda, cassia species and silver oaks.

Termed “potentially dangerous trees”, these are unable to bear the heavy winds and rains. The forest department issued a direction not to grow such trees, except in large open spaces such as gardens and parks.

Recently, the BCC set up a committee headed by former environment secretary Y.N. Yellappa Reddy to identify trees suitable for Bangalore weather conditions. Following meetings with stakeholders like Bescom, BCC and forest department, the committee allowed for certain flexibility in tree cutting.

Forest department had identified some 200-odd trees for removal. “But the lower rank BCC officials, who are found to be hand-in-glove with contractors, are flouting norms by chopping lucrative, hardwood trees,” Suresh Heblikar, one of the committee members, said.

The common practice of axing down “potentially dangerous” trees (including rain trees, certain softwood trees and damaged trees) has not been complete this year. “The trees to be chopped down were identified, but the work to uproot them was not completed,” sources say.

About two years ago, tree unit officers of forest department kicked off a roadwise survey in the city to identify and eliminate damaged and dead trees, but it remained incomplete. In the survey, it was estimated that the city had about 10 lakh trees.

Identifying and eliminating “dangerous” trees should be done under strict vigilance of senior officers. This apart, more public outcry is required to stop flouting norms, say environmentalists.


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