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Development takes its toll of trees

By Our Special Correspondent



With work on widening the roads being taken up, felling of trees in several areas of Bangalore has become common.

BANGALORE, APRIL 11. Trees, many of them decades old, are getting cut in different parts of the city for various reasons, some of them unavoidable. What is alarming environmentalists is that the Karnataka High Court's ruling that two saplings should be planted to make up for each grown tree felled, is not being followed in most cases. The unusually heavy rains and hailstorm on Sunday also took its toll of trees in several neighbourhoods.

According to officials of the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) during the past two weeks alone, the city traffic police asked the civic body's permission to cut down more than 700 trees for widening roads. This is in addition to chopping branches of trees, as it happened last week on Cubbon Road, because the branches obstructed traffic. The trees already cut down or being felled are in areas such as Basavanagudi, J.C. Nagar, Rajajinagar, and Nandidurg Road, besides Cubbon Road. Avenue trees of Seshadri Road were cut down some months ago to make room for the flyover coming up there.

Last week, residents of Vani Vilas Road in Basavanagudi were shocked to find trees being cut down between DVG Road and Ranga Rao Market. Vani Vilas Road is to be widened to twice its breadth to cope with the increasing traffic.

In the same area, other trees are to be cut down for the National College Circle flyover and some have already gone.

Permission

In the Basavanagudi case, the Forest Department officials first said no permission was given for cutting down the trees while the BMP claimed to have obtained permission.

"It was a case of trees obstructing traffic being cut and the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act empowers us to do that," they said.

The Forest Department, to its credit, has been strict about granting permission for trees to be cut down, on roadsides or on private premises. According to Forest officials, even if sufficient numbers of saplings are planted now it will take another 50 years before they grow to replace the trees which are gone.

While there are some fast growing trees, all of them may not be suitable for Bangalore's soil and climatic conditions.

BMP officials now say they are planning to start a massive drive to plant saplings across the city and that their numbers will be far more than trees felled in recent weeks.

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