Tuesday, December 08, 2009

BU’s ‘love-hate’ green drive

BU’s ‘love-hate’ green drive
The alleged destruction of flora and fauna by Bangalore University on its campus to plant exotic species has drawn flak from enviromentalists

The Bangalore University’s alleged ‘deforestation for afforestation’ in a bid to create one of the largest carbon sinks in the city on its campus has driven the green bodies red. The varsity, in tie-up with some NGOs, had embarked upon an afforestation programme to create the carbon sink in order to curb the rising levels of carbon-dioxide in the city’s atmosphere. According to environmentalists led by Hasiru Usiru, an NGO, this noble intention had inflicted severe damage to the local species.
These green organisations have complained to the vicechancellor as well as the registrar seeking appropriate action.
“In order to plant over a lakh exotic saplings, including those from Western Ghats, the varsity, led by the Botany Department, has caused damage to the native eco-system,” says the Hasiru Usiru team.
The varsity’s green drive began on five acres of land near Gandhi Bhavan in the campus. “In a bid to plant more exotic species, the authorities cleared several trees and bushes, and set them ablaze,” they alleged.
The green brigade said while the university succeeded in accomplishing its task, it also destroyed the species unique to the campus. “Planting new saplings doesn’t mean destroying fully-grown native species,” they contended.
“They could have taken up planting amidst existing vegetation,” said a volunteer from Hasiru Usiru.
The university, however, says it has no role in the project and that it is only providing land for the project.
Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, S R Ambika, Botany Department professor and the project coordinator, said, “Two NGOs, including Rotary and Navachetana, have taken up the project. We are only providing land. Planting, nurturing and maintenance is being taken care of by them.”
“The plan is to have our own garden with species that support research,” she added.
On allegations that the existing vegetation had been cleared away, she said, “It was only with an intention that they should not suppress newly-planted saplings as they require a wider space. There have been so many endemic species all around the campus and clearing one or two doesn’t take away all the species.”
Meanwhile, locals had a field day collecting branches of the chopped trees, which can be used as firewood for cooking.
Several endemic trees, including Baage, Naayibela, Sodli, Tandrasi, Kaarachhu and wild date palms, were cut and cleared. The dried trees were burnt on the spot.
“Close to 20-30 per cent of saplings have already died due to inadequate water and nourishment,” said a botanist representing Hasiru Usiru.


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