A tree census conducted at Indiranagar BDA Complex, led by Bengaluru-based environmentalist Vijay Nishanth, popularly known as Tree Doctor, witnessed people turning out in large numbers, including children and senior citizens.
On Friday, the tree census lasted close to three hours and will be continued next week. The exercise, which was co-ordinated by United Bengaluru, a collective of Resident Welfare Associations, and citizen forums across Bengaluru, was done in light of the Bangalore Development Authority mulling to cull trees while setting up a new shopping complex in Indiranagar.
“It's really to good see citizens coming together to take account of the green lung space. We even saw children taking initiative and learning of the value of each and every tree. Soon we will be prepare a report. The response to their call has been overwhelming. We are happy that we are able to support this cause,” Vijay said.
Ashok Sharat, a resident of Indiranagar, said that the purpose of Friday’s exercise was two-fold: to see how many trees are there, and ensure they don’t get cut down, and also make people familiar with trees, and make them understand how to increase the number of trees.
“This is one way of telling the authorities that we don’t want a new shopping complex at the cost of trees. Generally, none of the malls are doing very well in Bengaluru; so what are the authorities trying to achieve by cutting down trees to build another shopping complex here?” he asked.
He added, “Cutting down trees has so many other effects, you cut down trees and there is an increase of urban heat islands. Then there is less water retention in the soil and less rainfall. These are not about beauty or anything, but basic needs such as water and sustainability.”
The move by the BDA to chop the 200-odd trees in order to make way for a revamped shopping complex in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) was opposed by residents of Indiranagar ever since word spread about the project.
On August 11, many local residents under the aegis of iChange Indiranagar, a collective of Resident Welfare Associations in Indiranagar and adjoining areas, protested in the complex to make their stand clear.
The citizens also got support from Bengaluru Central MP PC Mohan and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who joined the residents to meet BDA Commissioner Rakesh Singh asking him to reconsider the project.
Speaking to TNM earlier, a resident-activist Swarna Venkataraman pointed out that the national standard for open spaces is 6 sq. metres per person while in Indiranagar, it was currently at 0.54 sq. metres per person.
City-based environmentalists pointed out that the trees that are in threat of being axed include peepal, banyan, Indian beech, tulip tree, rain tree, silver oak, orchid tree, cherry, champak, java plum, mango, lemon, neem, coconut, jackfruit, subabul tamarind and custard apple trees. Some of the trees are as old as 70 years.
However, some of the trees among these species are exempted from the Environment Protection Act making it easy for the BDA to go ahead with the project. However, they pointed out that no construction can take place in the area as it comes within 75 metre of Kadirana Palya Lake.