BANGALORE: The green belt around the southern parts of the city --- the B M Kaval state reserve forest (550 acres) and Turahalli forest (515 acres) --- continues to be under attack with its adjoining regions attracting massive real estate and infrastructure development.
Adding to this ecological damage is the government decision to go ahead with the setting up of a waste treatment plant just in front of the forest tract, and to set up a Vishnuvardhan Memorial in two acres in the verdant forested Myrasandra region.
Noted environmentalist and former special secretary (environment) Dr A N Yellappa Reddy said, “How they are giving permission in this green lung space or around this forest area is not understandable.” He said this area is one of the most beautiful habitats for a variety of wildlife including elephants, panthers, slender loris, deer, peacocks, etc and should not be touched. This and the nearby hills around Kanakapura Road and Kengeri, now being exploited for building residential complexes, should have been retained to mitigate the effect of heat islands in the city, he said.
A long-time resident and activist Narayan Murthy said the mushrooming of high-rise apartments on the forest fringes along Kanakapura Road, the continuous clearing of land and the drilling of borewells have driven away the birds and small mammals. But the bigger mammals are entering the villages from the Kaggalipura side. “Wildlife straying into nearby residential areas have become common nowadays as even the big wild cats like leopards come in search of food,” he said.
Now, with the BBMP clearing an area of 10 acres of lush growth and felling trees for the waste processing unit in Banashankari VI Stage, 5th Block, the residents feel that it may sound the death knell for what is left of the forest cover.
Suresh, a resident, said, “The BBMP, in its hurry to implement the High Court order on setting up waste treatment plants and solving Bangalore’s garbage problem, has been destroying flora and fauna without any thought about environmental consequences. Even the Pollution Control Board is against this project and I hope the High Court takes note of this issue. In fact, they will be creating another Mandur here.”
Speaking to Express, Bangalore Urban Division Range Forest Officer Nagaraj said, “The BBMP has not even given us the project report as the waste plant is coming up in front of the reserve forest. We wrote a letter to the commissioner a month ago expressing our concerns, but we have not received any reply.” He said there is no clarity whether it is a dumping yard, a segregation area or a waste treatment plant. “We are concerned about the consequences of this project on the green belt,” he said.
BBMP Commissioner M Lakshminarayana said he received the letter a few days back.
“This is a processing unit for garbage generated by the BDA layout. We are not using forest land for this unit,” he maintained.
When pointed out that the unit is being set up just opposite a forest patch, which will affect the environment, he said that at present garbage is being dumped there. BBMP is setting up a processing unit which is much better and safer than dumping garbage, he said.
The Deputy Conservator of Forests (Bangalore Urban), under whose jurisdiction this green belt falls, was not available for comment.