Civic
The department will launch a website and app for citizens to purchase saplings at low rates, intended to encourage planting of more trees.
Project Hasiru Nursery in Hennur

The Karnataka State Forest Department is planning to introduce ‘Project Hasiru’, an initiative to allow consumers to purchase cheap saplings online from 6 Bengaluru nurseries.

Though it is yet to be officially launched, the website has already been put up in partnership with the startup LetsEndorse.

The department also has plans to introduce an app through which customers can purchase saplings. The app, at present, is only for internal use by the forest department.

“Project Hasiru is a way to raise awareness about the availability of saplings in Bengaluru,” says Dipika Bajpai, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bengaluru, “You can go right now to a nursery and pick up saplings, but people aren’t too aware of this.”

The website lists the six forest department nurseries in Bengaluru (Hebbal, Hennur, Kadugodi, HAL, Anekal, and Sulikere) with live inventories of different native saplings for residents to purchase. These include peepal, neem, jack fruit, and bamboo.

According to the website, the cost incurred by the government to nurture each sapling is between Rs 30 and Rs 50, however through ‘Project Hasiru’ people can obtain saplings for a mere Rs 1 to Rs 3.

Dipika says the website might eventually include videos showing citizens the best way to maintain their saplings. “Perhaps we can list a small embed on the website showing best practices. But there are no plans for that yet.”

Fears of dwindling tree cover

The initiative comes amid fears of a dwindling tree cover for Bengaluru, once called the ‘Garden City’. The Karnataka State Tree Cover Enhancement Policy of 2016 set guidelines to increase the state’s tree cover from the current 21% to 33%.

Numerous public and private efforts have also tried to replenish the tree cover through technological means.

The BBMP earlier launched the ‘Green App’ in 2017 with a similar aim. The app allowed residents to request up to 50 free saplings and collect it from their ward park. Resident Welfare Associations could get up to 200 saplings using the Green App.

Project Hasiru, on the other hand, allows any citizen to get up to 200 saplings. If residents need more than this, they can email Dipika at dipika.goyal@gmail.com to request more saplings.