Thursday, May 27, 2010

73 more trees to go

73 more trees to go
The BBMP had assured that 10 trees would be cut for the construction of Tagore circle underpass. Turns out the number will now be an amazing 73!

Basavangudi is set to lose yet another shaded canopy as the BBMP gears up to do what it does best – cut down trees.
At least 73 trees will be axed for the ongoing construction of the Tagore circle underpass. And if that isn’t bad enough, the project will also eat into the famed M N Krishna Rao Park for a bus bay!
These are the startling new moves of the BBMP as work continued on the much-debated and opposed underpass.
When work on the project began, the BBMP was quick to assure that just 10 trees would be cut for the project. The Detail Project Report (DPR) that came out in 2006 marked 52 trees to be axed. But on Wednesday morning, residents living close to the area woke up to the shrill sound of an electric saw as a huge raintree close to Dwarkanath Bhavan was felled.
Even as a crowd gathered to protest, the contractor, Mohammed Y, who has been awarded the tender to fell the trees at a measly Rs 2.5 lakh, furnished a letter from the Forest Department giving him permission to chop down 73 trees. “If you have a problem, sign a petition and give it to me. I will take it to the corporation and get my money back. I don’t want a problem,” he said.
The question on every resident’s mind is why should the trees be cut down beyond the Basavangudi Police Station where the underpass ends. “The trees are being cut beyond the Basavangudi Post Office towards the National College flyover on either side till the end of Krishna Rao Park. Why do you need to do this when the underpass ends at the police station gate?,” asked Geetha Rao, a resident.
The BBMP, however, says that these trees need to go to make way for the service road. The assistant executive engineer of the project, Shivanna, who was quick to defend the project, said, “Though the length of the box is 80 metres, the total length of the project is 578.39 metres including the service road. We have 100 meters of battery limit to accommodate the 34 metre-wide service road on both sides of the box.”
When Deputy Forest Officer (South) Puttaswamy was contacted about the permission letter, he confirmed that 73 trees have been permitted to be chopped. “I cannot deny permission to cut down trees for development work. The engineering department gave us a requisition letter and we gave permission,” he said. Asked about the responsibility of a tree officer to check the viability of the request, he had no answers.
Not happy with cutting down trees, the BBMP is also planning to eat into the famed Krishna Rao Park to erect a bus bay. About 2.3 meters of the park area has been marked in the project sketch for the facility, where hundreds of walkers throng daily. The BBMP officials refused to comment on this but were quick to assure that no tree would be cut within the park premises. Can we believe them?


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