Friday, July 29, 2005

Bangalore is still green

Bangalore is still green
Lata Srinivasan takes a look at the green cover drive being taken up by officials in the city
The Times of India

The Garden City. That's how Bangalore was referred to. Considered a pensioner's paradise, this fast-growing IT city seems to be losing its green cover to towering concrete and glass structures, and tar roads and flyovers crawling out in all directions. Has the massive real estate development and IT boom actually depleted the city of its greenery? No, say the Horticulture Department officials.
Green drive
The common perception is that there's been a great reduction in the number of trees and greenery across the city. But the officials don't agree. A senior horticulture officer of the BCC says, "there's an intense drive to increase the green cover in the city, especially in the new areas that are being added to the Corporation. This perception may exist among the public as the city is growing rapidly." Around 50,000 saplings are to be planted in the city this year, with 16,000 in South Bangalore alone. The planting of saplings in South Bangalore, for instance, was started aptly on World Environment Day, June 5, and so far 8,000 saplings have been planted. The remaining will be planted over the next two weeks.

While it cannot be disputed that trees have been felled for several reasons like road widening or because they are a danger, measures are being taken so that the reduction in trees is compensated for. When a complaint is made to the BCC about any tree, the Forest Department has to issue permission before it is felled. Subsequently, two saplings have to be planted. The number of trees being planted in the city each year is also increasing compared to the trees felled. Officials say that only 10 percent of the number of trees being planted is removed. While in 2003, 15,000 saplings were planted, in 2004 it was 20,000. And this year, the number is more than double. As the city expands, efforts are being made to plant saplings on each avenue in the new areas being added to the BCC.

Preferred species
Officials say that there are certain species of trees that are extremely susceptible to uprooting because of rains or other factors. Species like the Mayflower, spathodea, peltoforum, rain tree, and akashmalige, are more susceptible to uprooting. While the mayflower for instance, is quite pretty, it has shallow roots like the spathodea and hence can uproot easily. Now the Horticulture Department is planting trees that are not susceptible to weather changes and which have deep roots to ensure that uprooting doesn't occur.

Mahogany, lagestroemia, champige, pogonia, kadamba, bohemia, and thespia populnea are the species that are being currently planted in the city. The mahogany is suitable for wide roads, while the thespia populnea is suited for congested roads as it grows to only about 25-30 feet. The mahogany and pogonia are sturdy trees and according to officials, in the last two years not a single tree of these species has fallen. The species being planted is based on the type of environment and the planting is undertaken in a planned way across the city.

With Bangalore's population expected to touch 88 lakhs by 2015, it is indeed the fastest growing city in India. The new Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) ensures that an adequate area of green space is being provided and the 11.5 sqkm of natural valleys, forests, national parks and water bodies will also be protected. A comprehensive survey is also underway in the city where data is being collected on the number of trees on each road and also according to species.

Only after completion of the survey will the exact figures be available but so far, according to the estimates of officials, the green cover has only been increasing each year.


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