Environmental activists who had slammed the merciless chopping down of 200 trees to widen a small stretch of the Bengaluru-Mysuru Highway now have reason to cheer.
The National Highways Authority of India on Sunday held a meeting with jurisdictional forest officers and green activists, and agreed to transplant a majority of the trees in the medians of the highway.
The decision was taken on Sunday during a follow-up meeting of a mandatory public consultation by the Forest Department. The 4.2-km stretch, which is being widened, starts from Mysuru Circle (Columbia Asia) and ends at Kalaswadi village. There are 209 trees in this stretch alone.
â€śThis is good news, as we can maintain the trees in an alignment. They have agreed to give a median space of around 4.5 meters, where the transplantation and plantation work can be done. They have also agreed to give one-metre space on either side of the road for the trees. And, given many of the trees are eucalyptus, this is a win-win option and it is very doable,â€ť Vijay Nishanth, an eco-conservationist, said.
The Project Director from the National Highways Authority of India, BT Sridhara, confirmed this development to TNM.
Another eco-conservationist based in Mysuru, Thejaswi B, said, â€śIn the meeting, there were a lot of people from Mysuru and it went on for a long time. We spoke about how we need to preserve these heritage trees (trees on the verge of extinction). We asked them (the NHAI) to mark the green parts formally, and they agreed to this and sought time to acquire additional land. They said they will include the green parts in the highway plan itself.â€ť
Eucalyptus, although very sturdy by nature, are bad for biodiversity as they suck in water and nutrients from the soil, making it hard for other plant species to survive in the same habitat.
The NHAI is also exploring if corporates would be interested in collaborating with them in the transplant of trees. Further specifics will be discussed in another meeting by the three parties, sources said.
In June, activists had raised alarm bells over the alleged reluctance of the Forest Department for not exploring alternatives to save the green cover in this stretch.
Speaking to TNM at that time, Thejaswi had said, â€śThey want to repeat the same process followed 50 years ago. All these trees are decades old. To grow one such tree, it will take so much time. But the authorities are not concerned.â€ť