Ejipura flyover project raises concerns over high environmental impact

Azim Premji University researchers, in an EIA report, highlights the risk to over 200 trees due to the Ejipura flyover project.

Researchers from Azim Premji University, in a rapid Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, has observed the environmental impact of the proposed Ejipura Flyover project, which has been delayed for six years now. The study–conducted by Harini Nagendra, Seema Mundoli, Vidya Ramesh, Vivek G and Soumi Das– highlights that more than 200 trees are under threat due to this project.

The study was undertaken on the 1.4 km stretch where the flyover is proposed. In this stretch, they counted 207 trees of 24 species from 11 families. Of the 207 trees, 51 are rain trees.

The report includes the assessment about the species and girth of the trees that will be cut down to complete the construction of the flyover. The researchers cite reasons why this could be environmentally detrimental for Bengaluru as a whole. 

Significance of the study

The study is especially significant in the backdrop of the Bengaluru Climate Action and Resilience Plan (BCAP), which aims to achieve net-zero by 2050. While 269 actions have been planned under BCAP to mitigate climate change in the city, individual projects like the Ejipura Flyover stands starkly opposite to these plans. 

The report states: “The BCAP specifically mentions that residential areas such as Koramangala (where the proposed flyover is coming up) have relatively lower summer average temperatures. The trees on the stretch of the road we surveyed have canopies that extend across the breadth of the road providing shade and keeping the climate cool.”

“With the trees being cut down for the flyover not only will the impact of urban heat island be exacerbated, but will make daily life for the commuters, small businesses and vendors along the road extremely uncomfortable and prove to be a risk for their health.”

“This is not the first EIA paper we have worked on; we have done it for the steel flyover, Cubbon Park project, Sankey project. In one way, our work is the simplest, we have to map the trees and identify them, in doing so, our work is also the saddest as we know in a few days, many of these trees could be cut. On the second day of our census, the largest rain tree in the region was about to be cut, but was thankfully prevented because of a few citizens protesting. We hope our work would in some way be useful, but unless they change the process at the governance level and prioritise the environment, this is all we can do,” says Seema Mundoli, faculty at Azim Premji University.

Genesis and current status of the project

The project was conceived in 2017 and is expected to connect Hosur Road and the Old Airport road. The flyover was originally to extend from Ejipura Main Road – Inner Ring Road Junction to Kendriya Sadan on Koramangala 100 feet road.

As per the study, the original Detailed Project Report (DPR) says that 286 trees will need to be cut down for building the elevated flyover and the loops (or slip route). Some trees were cut in 2017 to build the structures, but the work was stalled and currently, with the new changes, there may be requirements to chop down more trees than estimated. The project has incurred a cost escalation of nearly Rs. 104 crores due to delays and change in contractors, as reported by Bangalore Mirror.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has started the preliminary work to restart the construction of the Ejipura Flyover project. However, what has not been practically evaluated is the environmental consequences of the project. The actual work is still a few months away; BBMP will be working with a new firm and is currently completing the pre-construction activities. 

Map of trees to be cut down
Trees that will be cut down or impacted along the Flyover stretch as per report. Pic courtesy: Azim Premji Report

As reported by Deccan Herald, Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy highlighted the need to immediately cut five trees. “I have directed the BBMP officials to apply for permission to cut the trees. Parallelly, the BBMP will issue a preliminary notification to acquire land belonging to St John’s Hospital. The land belonging to the army has already been acquired. We want to complete the project in less than two years,” he said.

“The flyover is inevitable at this stage, it has to be completed, whether it solves the traffic problem or not. What can be done at the currently is for BBMP to explore how they can trim the trees, like how they did it in Jayanagar and JP Nagar for the metro lines,” says Seema.

However, she adds, that the problem with BBMP is that they trim one side and the tree is weighed down on the other side. “Proper scientific trimming is required for branches that are unnecessary, rather than removing the whole tree. However, while looking at the larger picture, when every project in Bengaluru is presented, it is often treated as a fait accompli. There needs to be a more a structural change.”

Seema says that instead of releasing a finalised DPR to the public and not giving them an opportunity to express their concerns, the project must be presented to the public during its inception stage. “This approach will give people time to analyse the project and voice their opposition in cases involving tree cutting or other environmental damage. The draft version of the DPR should be made accessible to the public before finalisation.”

While there maybe a sense of relief upon hearing the news of the progress of the long-delayed project, it is crucial not to overlook the consequences. The 199 trees, along the 1.4 km stretch, as measured by the researchers, sequester 180,000 kg or 180 metric tonnes of carbon. The cutting down of these trees, which have grown over decades, and compensating them by planting two saplings per tree will not counteract the climatic damage. 

The report also looks at the rising temperature in the city and how the reducing greenery in the name of development would only lead us towards an early doom.

Read more: Maverick’s Ejipura project: Uday Garudachar’s obstacle race

We cannot risk even one tree in Bengaluru

“We have no sense of the full greenery of the city, of the species or any details. We have a few satellite images, but nothing in detail. We are losing something that we don’t even know about, and by the time we realise the implications, we might be too late. This is a critical phase for the planet, and we are in no position to risk even one tree in Bengaluru, and hence the projects have to be planned accordingly,” emphasises Seema.

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  1. Balappa Muniraj says:

    There is no point in delaying the project any more. Almost all tree’s Branches are to be trimmed and the project can be completed. Some people are behind this delay,

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