Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Choked to death

Many trees were uprooted during the pre-monsoon rain. Concrete has covered their roots, choking and killing them. Trees need space to breathe, say experts
Jayashree Nandi | TNN

Bangalore: Early last week, a huge Ashoka tree broke into pieces and fell on the premises of a popular restaurant on Church Street, destroying the adjacent concrete wall. Customers were shocked when the debris fell right across their table.
The cause of the incident is now being debated. Was it because of a light shower or something else?
According to environmentalists, concrete has covered the roots of many trees in Jayanagar, Malleshwaram and Chamarajpet; these places were once abundant with trees. But the authority tasked to look after them — BBMP deputy conservator of forests (DCF) — seems to be unmoved by incidents of tree-fall due to use of concrete in construction activity around tree trunks.
“This is an old story. We’re not the authority concerned to take care of this. Tree officers usually go and inspect the spot, and then give permission for public auctioning. Uprooting is taken care of by the engineering department. I don’t know of any regulation about how much space needs to be kept for tree roots,” DCF S A Hubert explained.
However, space around trees is important to maintain their health, according to BBMP horticulture joint director A Narayanaswamy. “The amount of space to be left depends on the species. For instance, dwarf varieties need 15 to 20 feet and huge trees need 30 to 35 feet, sometimes even 40 feet,” Narayanaswamy explained. “It also depends on the size of the road. For highways or bigger roads, large trees can be planted.” In K R Circle, trees-planting is planned before paving the area with cobbles. “But in most parts of the city, this kind of planning was not done.”
A noted environmentalist said roots are choked in most areas. “There’s a tree every 100 feet on a sidewalk. But one can’t plant a tree there as the whole place is set in concrete. If trees fall at the current rate due to malnutrition, the local ambient climate will change fast. Bangalore will be hotter by five degree Celsius soon,” the environmentalist explained.
Hasiru Usiru activist Vinay Sreenivasa is disappointed. “I’ve seen some trees on pavements where not even a centimetre of space has been left. How will they (trees) breathe? Isn’t it a natural consequence that they are falling?”
BBMP tree officer M R Suresh, too, acknowledged that many trees are falling than ever before.
“Statistics show that incidence of tree fall has increased of late. A major reason is cementing work around the roots. But there are other reasons, and every issue can’t be taken care of by the civic authority. Citizens need to be more proactive,” he said.
Ecological science experts also confirm that mass concrete work on pavement has choked the roots. “Cementing is the culprit. There is no proper aeration, which stops growth. The root breathes like any other living being. But if they (roots) are covered in concrete, then there is no oxygen flow,” said T V Ramachandra, Centre for Ecological Science, IISc.
Fallen giants
The amount of space a tree needs depends on the type of the species, though most require at least one metre. That helps in water penetration. Otherwise the tree suffocates and hardly gets any nutrient. In some new layouts, people cover the soil with concrete, which stops air and water circulation. Naturally, trees are uprooted as a result of the damaging practice. Also, BBMP should focus on pruning trees on avenues so that branches don’t fall T V Ramachandra | CENTRE FOR ECOLOGICAL SCIENCE, IISC Give some space Space around trees is a must to maintain their health The amount of space depends on the type of species Dwarf varieties need 15 to 20 foot Huge trees need 30 to 35 foot, sometimes even 40 foot
Problem areas Jayanagar, Malleswaram and Chamarajpet were once abundant with healthy trees Concrete has covered the soil in many new layouts Now, existing trees on sidewalks can’t be replaced when they die Trees are fast disappearing without any replacement Experts fear the situation has become unsustainable
Rising temperature At the current rate of trees falling, Bangalore’s ambient climate will see a rise by 5 degree Celsius in some years Experts call the situation “unmindful development”


Post a Comment

<< Home