Tuesday, June 29, 2010

BBMP’s beautification drive threatens eco park

BBMP’s beautification drive threatens eco park
Bangalore:June 28, DHNS:

An eco park, full of rare and precious varieties of herbs, trees and healing plants, in south Bangalore is under threat from BBMP's beautification drive.

Dr M L Lalitha of the Lakshmivenkantaswamy Temple Trust in Padmanabhanagar, Ward No 182, who is on a crusade to "save" the park from BBMP's move to fence, pave, light and beautify it, says “Whoever has heard of designer lights, imported tiles and metal fencing in an eco park? Why ruin a natural environment, which has been offering quiet relief to people with all kinds of respiratory problems in an otherwise polluted city, with attempts at beautification?" she asks.

For 30 years now, the trust has been maintaining the eco park, which has earned appreciation from environmentalists like A N Yellappa Reddy (See Box).
Once a hillock, the park now houses a temple, bamboo thickets, groves of 'bilva' and 'kadamba' trees, scores of medicinal and herbal plants - and weeds. The park has largely been left to the temple trustees to manage. And led by Lalitha, the trustees were happy to leave things to nature. At the park, fallen leaves turned into manure through composting; soil erosion was prevented by bamboo thickets that ring the park; and boulders were the natural fencing.

But over the last few weeks, this has begun to change. The boulders on the outer edge have been replaced with metal and wire fencing; the stone slabs are making way for tiles, and lights have been installed.
Lalitha fears that trees like the champaka, the palash, the saptha parini and the shwetha ashwatha with their documented medicinal properties could "fall prey to thoughtless beautification".

Surprisingly, her fears are rubbished - not by the BBMP whose ward office is bang opposite the eco park- but by a group of silver-haired men, members of a senior citizens' club at the very same park, who insist that "beautification" will help them "pass time in a better way" in the park.
"This is the only park in Padmanabhanagar for us to visit. We want it protected, fenced and maintained," they argue.

"We will be able to walk around if there are tiles as the stone pathway is undulating and the natural gradient of the park is steep," says K Basavaraj, who retired from NGEF and has made the park his evening haunt for the last 3 years.
But L Srinivas, the area corporator, is determined to see the beautification project through.

"People have come to my doorstep, requesting me to give them a nice park. I have to listen to them. Poor Lalithamma has also worked hard planting all those trees that are supposedly good for health. What to do? I cannot disappoint the people. I have got funds released for beautification. I have spent Rs 15 lakh on fencing. I will be spending another Rs 5 lakh on paving. I will go by what the majority wants. Like other parks in Bangalore, BBMP will maintain this park, keep it clean and lock the gates at certain time,"
he says.
DH News Service

Lights will hit birds, animals
" Installing lights in an eco park destroys the habitats of nocturnal creatures. Bangalore has lost all over 200 villages and 200 tree groves or 'gundu thopu's - natural biodiversity sites in these villages. We cannot afford to lose more such precious sites," says A N Yellapa Reddy, former secretary to the government, Department of Forests & Environment.


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