'Bengaluru has become unlivable already, what future do you promise us?' asked students who were at the protest against road widening and the cutting of trees on the Sarjapura-Attibele road, on the outskirts of Bengaluru on Thursday evening.
About 1800 trees are set to be cut to accommodate the road widening, which residents say is completely unwarranted, as the road has already been widened.
The KRDCL has already issued the tenders for road widening to a private company, says Deepanjali Naik, from Voice of Sarjapura. They have also started marking the trees which are to be cut, she added.
â€śWe found that RNS infrastructure has been given the tender. While we were holding the protest, the contractors were taking our pictures while working. They were surveying the road just opposite to the protest site,â€ť she said.
Workers surverying the road while the protest was ongoing.
The work has begun despite residents being deeply unhappy with the public consultation, and had opposed the proposal to cut the trees, all of whom are more than 100 years old. The trees are native species trees like Banyan trees, which are tough to transplant.
Deepanjali adds, â€śTrees are our external lungs, we canâ€™t survive without them. It is suicidal to chop down few last trees in Sarjapura area, which already has a very bad water table and suffers from increasing air pollution.â€ť
One of the large trees that is set to be cut during the road widening project.
People attending the protest shouted slogans, saying â€śMara Kadi Bediâ€ť, (donâ€™t cut trees) that road widening is destroying the environment, and does not actually address congestion. They cite induced demand, wherein more people buy private transport vehicles because of the availability of space on the road for them.
Instead, they have been demanding better public transportation and connectivity. According to a statement released by the protesters, they asked that â€śâ€¦sustainable alternatives be found instead by improving mass transit, such as suburban rail and better bus services so that people don't use cars.â€ť
Protesters stressed that â€śEcology should be at the center of planning. Bengaluru has already lost green cover beyond danger levels, and it cannot afford to lose any more trees.â€ť
Disha A Ravi, from Fridays for Future said, "The government doesn't seem to have a clear plan on how this is going to help Bengaluru's traffic; and instead of looking for ecologically sustainable development, they are killing our environment and putting our health at risk.â€ť
Organisers say that this protest is a precursor to a larger mass protest being planned to save trees in Bengaluru.