Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bengaluru's green warriors fight on

Bengaluru's green warriors fight on

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Bengaluru may have lost several trees to road widening, subways, flyovers and the Metro Rail. But the city has not given in with Green Warriors taking up the fight to save the remaining trees. The latest court battle is being waged over the construction of a war memorial at the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park.
Environmentalists, however, warn of a bigger threat -pollution -- which over the years could lead to stunted growth in trees and a change in their flowering and fruiting seasons unless drastic action is taken, report S.M. Shashiprasad and Sanchita Sen

: While the city has undoubtedly lost a lot of its green cover to building of infrastructure over the years, it has not given in without a fight. `Green warriors' have done their bit to save the Garden City by taking the battle to the courts, usually opting for the public interest litigation (PIL) route.
While they have succeeded in some cases, senior advocate B.V. Acharya feels the Corporation Act could be enforced more strictly by the courts to ensure that open spaces are used for the purpose they are meant for under the law.

Senior counsel Pramila Nesargi too feels the courts need to respond more to public outcry on Bengaluru's dying greenery. "This has not always been the case because permission is often granted for tree felling on the reasoning that development cannot be stopped," she says. But there have been some landmark judgements that have given greens room for hope. The decision of the high court to impose restrictions on any further construction inside Cubbon Park and Lalbagh is one such. The city's nature lovers had their day in the Supreme Court as well when it upheld the high court order on this matter.

Fortunately, although the greens have lost some battles they have far from given up.
Faced with the prospect of losing a valuable lung space of the city following the government's decision to shift the Bangalore Turf Club from its present location on Race Course Road to the outskirts, they lost no time in going to court and were jubilant when it directed the state government to develop the entire area into a mini-forest or theme park with a variety of trees and flowering plants, and give up its plan to build a tall skyscraper in its place.

The latest court battle is being waged over the construction of a war memorial at the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park, with the greens strongly opposing the cutting down of trees to make way for it.

Contending that any move to build the memorial in the park will be a violation of the Karnataka Government Parks Preservation Act, 1975, they have appealed to the court to stop the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) from axing trees to clear the ground for it. The issue remains hanging in suspense as the court has not yet given its order either ways.

Despite the aggressive green brigade, infrastructure continues to eat into the city's greenery, posing a threat to its ambience and weather conditions that are getting worse by the day as a result of the pollution and falling tree cover. What is now worrying Bengaluru's nature lovers is the stretch of the Metro Rail that goes underground at Cubbon Park, as they see it as a threat to the city's most famous lung space. Already, several groups and individuals have approached the court pleading for a stay on the cutting of trees and asking it to stop the Metro Rail from "trespassing" into the park.


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