Bengaluru has lost 88% of its forest cover and 75% of its water bodies, according to conservation and environment expert TV Ramachandra. Speaking at a webinar on Sunday, September 25, Ramchandra — who is associated with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) — said that there is one tree for every seven people in Bengaluru, and that the government must focus on regrowing vegetation in the city.
The webinar, ‘Karnataka: Cities Under Water, Why?’ was conducted by the Breakthrough Science Society in the wake of severe inundation in the city following rains a few weeks ago. Ramachandra, who is the coordinator of the Energy and Wetland Research Group, said that the Karnataka government must take back encroached lakes and stormwater drains so that major calamities can be avoided in the future. “The green cover situation in Bengaluru is also dire, with only one tree for every seven people in the city, and this ratio must be reversed to restore old Bengaluru’s vegetation,” he said, according to The New Indian Express.
Also part of the panel were Dr Srikanth Srirama, scientist with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Vector Control Research Centre in Puducherry, and Sanjana A of the environmental activism group Fridays For Future. Dr Srikanth raised the issue of diseases that spread as a result of flooding and inundation. He said that if Bengaluru’s drainage problem is not fixed, the city will see rising cases of communicable vector-borne diseases including chikungunya and dengue, and respiratory diseases. He argued that the diseases can have adverse psychological issues, particularly in children who bear the brunt of the illness. Meanwhile, Sanjana of Fridays For Future called for action by the state government, as climate change is already affecting several parts of Karnataka.