“Bangalore is not a garden city any more!” is a common refrain that I have been hearing for over 3 years. It is definitely not the cool town that we had visited a few times during summer in the mid 1980’s, escaping the scorching Chennai heat. (Apparently, it was still a pleasant place when my husband started his career here over a decade ago). This situation reminds me of the song Ayyayyo Bengaluru lamenting this city’s deterioration rendered during the first edition of Namma Jathre (Freedom Festival) in Cubbon Park in 2006.
So what are the reasons for this live example of climate change? Well, it is primarily because the BBMP is periodically felling trees in large numbers to widen roads and build flyovers. This will supposedly ease traffic congestion but most Bangaloreans think otherwise. For, we have been seeing it contribute to the immense degeneration of the city’s public spaces and greenery instead!
Present condition of Jayamahal Road near J.C. Nagar
On Jayamahal Road opposite the Doordarshan Kendra office
Vinay Sreenivasa of Hasiru Usiru speaking the at the public meeting with BBMP on Nov-20
Human chain on Jayamahal Road outside Fun World
Protestors at Mekhri circle on Bellary Road
The latest instance is the plan to cut 856 trees on the Jayamahal – Bellary Road between Cantonment Railway Station and Mekhri Circle. On 21st November 2010, over a hundred of us including school and college students from Wild Forever Foundation, volunteers with Hasiru Usiru and residents of surrounding areas (such as Vasant Nagar, R.T. Nagar, J.C. Nagar, Jayamahal, Benson Town, Frazer Town, Sanjay Nagar, Sadashiv Nagar, Sahakar Nagar, Hebbal, Guttahalli et al) formed a human chain and then marched to Mekhri Circle to express our anguish at the proposal. We voiced our protest through slogans such as “Dhikkara, dhikkara, BBMP dhikkara (i.e., BBMP down, down)”, “Save trees, save yourself!” The young and old from as far as Vijay Nagar, Yelahanka and J.P. Nagar also expressed solidarity as they have also borne the ‘heat and dust’ (literally) of the increased private vehicles and haphazard and delayed infrastructure projects.
Efforts at convincing officials from the BBMP and relevant government departments through public meetings which started in early November are continuing. The visuals offer a glimpse of the people’s response to the threat of losing more trees. A summary of the meetings and the alternatives suggested are also here.