Green city or city on the fast track?

Implementing infrastructure projects in limited space is a challenge and felling trees down is tragically the side effect of development. So what's the solution?

After a long tiring wait at the traffic signal, a turn into Nanda road used to be refreshing. This road is a long road running across the Jayanagar area in Bangalore. Any resident of Jayanagar would always remember that road with fondness. Nanda Road used to be a lush green road with more than 100 trees. Entering that road would mean forgetting the traffic woes and just driving freely on the broad road looking at the canopy of huge green trees overhead. They were so dense that you could see only small specks of sunlight even on hot, sunny days. It used to be a treat to lower down car windows just to breathe in the fresh air.

Nanda Road in Transition

Unfortunately today that experience rests only in the memories of several residents of Jayanagar. The Nanda road is now a Metro Rail Construction Site. Some trees had to be cut down and some branches trimmed. But the fact remains that we will never see the beauty of this road as it was a few years back. The same is true of few other areas in the city. In the last three years, the city has lost over 7000 trees.

Losing its greenery has been a problem for the city for quite some time now and probably even for some more years to come. It is definitely unfortunate that the green cover in the city has to be sacrificed to ease traffic gridlocks that having been increasingly choking the city. The responsibility lies in the hands of the municipal corporation which has been undertaking efforts such as flyovers, underpasses, road widening and the metro rail projects. Implementing these projects in limited space is a challenge and felling trees down is tragically the side effect of development.

Ultimately it is a matter of survival. We need jobs and incomes for the growing population in the city. Economic development happens to be the sole solution which comes with a complementary requirement- Infrastructure development. This phenomenon is bound to happen, even if it means giving up some of the green cover that the city has been boasting about for years now. It surely is a tough decision to make, but do we really have a choice. Several have protested but is there any other way out?

The new Nanda Road

The only solution is to encourage planting of saplings where ever possible in the city. As a matter of fact, some effort in that direction apparently is being taken. A tree planting drive has been undertaken to commemorate the World Environment Day. As part of this initiative, trees were planted on 2.25 acres of barren land along the periphery of the Madiwala lake in May 2011.

The public could also be encouraged to be part of the tree planting drive. We could also draw inspiration from the novel initiative undertaken by the forest department in Mangalore. They have initiated a program called "a tree for a child and a forest for a school". As part of this initiative the schools cooperate with the forest department and encourage their students to plant saplings in their premises. The children are allowed to choose the sapling of their choice and plant the same. This is definitely a good initiative that would not only help create awareness among the children about the environment conservation but also they would be contributing to increasing the green cover in the city. As a matter of fact each one of us could contribute by planting a sapling in our homes. We do not necessarily need to plant a tree to spread green cover. It could even be a small plant in our balcony.

It is true that a tree can be cut down very quickly given sophisticated machines, but a sapling would take years to become a tree. But we unfortunately are left with little or no choice but to wait till the saplings grow. Hopefully there will be some time in the future when Bangalore would regain its lost glory. We would then be able to travel freely, feeling the magic of green around us, without having to bother about bumper to bumper traffic.

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