Thursday, July 31, 2008


Prashanth G N | TNN

Bangalore: Satellite imagery has provided concrete proof that Bangalore is no longer a green city. A systematic study of land use and environment over six years (from 2000 to 2006) by researcher H S Sudhira of IISc shows that the city’s green cover, including vegetation of all forms, has been declining over the past six years.
The decline is an average of 30 sqkm annually, that’s 180 sqkm in six years. Correspondingly, built-up area has increased by 61.6% — from 186.42 sqkm to 301.27 sqkm and vegetation in and around the city has declined from 859.24 sqkm to 684.85 sqkm.
The city is adding roughly 20 sqkm of built-up area/ paved surface annually and losing up to 20% of green, vegetation area. If water bodies are taken as part of green cover, Bangalore is losing 23.7% of these bodies annually, that’s 1.7 sqkm a year.
“I’ve used ISRO’s national remote sensing satellites, which can cover vast areas intensely and accurately. In six years, Bangalore’s topography and land use has undergone a perceptible change — the builtup area has gone up and green cover has come down,” he said.
The silver lining is that forest patches in Bangalore Urban have not shrunk, though this is protected green cover as against unprotected green cover that was the focus of the study. There are 25 patches that occupy about 5,868 hectares in 1,306 sq km. In the last seven years, there has not been much change in the size of these patches, largely because no one is permitted to encroach or take over those patches.
The Forest Survey of India indicates that Bangalore region as a whole has 7.94% area classified as forest area i.e. of 2,190 sqkm, 164 sqkm in Bangalore is forest area — that does not include trees and small vegetation coming under the purview of BBMP.
“This 7.94% according to satellite imagery has fortunately remained constant. We need to preserve this at least,” say forest officials.
BBMP tree officer M R Suresh acknowledges that the green cover is coming down. “Land prices are so high in Bangalore that everyone is vying to give land for construction. Who will give land for greenery? What do we do for roads being widened? If there is another way out to accommodate the high number of new vehicles every year, BBMP would gladly keep all the trees. We will, however, take up planting at alternative sites.”
No of forest patches in BDA Planning area, inclusive of BBMP within Bangalore Urban — 25
25 patches across 5,868 hectares in 1,306 sqkm of Bangalore Urban
The city is adding 20 sqkm of built-up area annually and losing up to 20 per cent of green area


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