Friday, July 02, 2010

Plant one tree for each of our brave martyrs

Plant one tree for each of our brave martyrs

Noted environmentalist MB Krishna welcomes the chief minister's announcement that the war memorial will be shifted to another site. He suggests, in conversation with Bosky Khanna, that land for the memorial be acquired on the outskirts of the city.

What is your reaction to the chief minister's announcement that the memorial will be shifted elsewhere?
It is a good thing. No building should be erected at the cost of a park. Bangalore has already lost so much greenery in the last few years. We now yearn for green in a city that was once known as the Garden City. As a schoolboy, I remember that winter mornings would be mist-laden. All that is gone; the green cover contributed to the mist, by shading the ground and preventing heating, and also contributing to the humidity.
Work had already begun at the site. Indeed. It is irresponsible to be so whimsical, to take a decision without a proper assessment of the environmental impact and without assessing public reaction. If work had continued, there might have been changes in biodiversity, micro-climate and ground water recharge.
Even if one does not see birds and other wildlife on a tree at any given time, it does not mean it is not playing host to species at other times, in other seasons. Removing 'keystone' individuals could affect the survival of dependent species. There are long-term impacts of changes that we make, that might not be immediately apparent. We often cannot quantify changes — even a rough estimate of the abundance of different species of birds in the city will show you that dramatic changes have occurred in a matter of about 30 years.

So is there any way in which the damage already done can be undone?
In this particular instance, where construction had begun, there is indeed the chance to undo the damage already done. We could plant all the green right back. From a landscape design point of view, we could make it look more expansive. We could use the ridges and valleys in the park to create a positive impression on people. We can create a garden that will draw walkers; that people will remember!

Would you have any suggestions for the CM as he scouts for another location for the National Military Memorial?
Just imagine how nice it would be if we could create another Cubbon Park or Lalbagh. And we could have a shrub or a tree dedicated to every soldier we wish to remember. More than a decade ago, there were some 30,000 people entering Lalbagh every day. And there were people who would come each day from distant parts. Imagine how nice it would be to have a park on the outskirts of the city.


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