BENGALURU: Two years ago, a mature Copper pod tree on 41st Main Road in 9th Block, Pattabirama Nagar, was uprooted due to strong winds and heavy rains. A few days later, three saplings were planted in the same place on the request of a tender coconut vendor, J Krishna.
Today, the two Singapore Cherry and one Pongamia (Honge) tree have grown to a good height, all thanks to regular watering and care. The loss of a tree was compensated by three in this particular case. This green miracle was possible because of Project Vruksha and the efforts of vruksha rakshaka (tree guardian) Krishna.
There are many such instances of green cover recovery in the three wards of Jayanagar, Byrasandra and Pattabhiram Nagar. Several trees that became victims of rains or high winds, cutting for better visibility, poisoning and infrastructure projects, have been compensated for under Project Vruksha.
The unique voluntary tree mapping project was launched in 2014-15 on an experimental basis in these wards to track and compensate for the loss of trees. And it has been a huge success.
“If the project is replicated by BBMP in all the 198 wards, not only can it address the problem of vanishing tree cover, people and agencies responsible for the loss can also be held accountable,” say green activists.
In the past three years, Project Vruksha Foundation has been able to map 8,000 trees using GPS technology. Govindrajnagar MLA Priya Krishna and Jayanagar MLA Vijay Kumar supported them in the novel initiative.
Making every tree count
Project Vruksha is aimed at quantifying the city’s biodiversity through a scientific tree census and creating a biodiversity portal.
Through this project, one can know where trees are felled due to rains or have been cut for a project illegally. Scientific documentation includes various parameters like the tree’s name, species, girth, breadth, height, age, health and the GPS location.
The available lung space has also been identified. “Without a tree census and mapping, the city’s green cover will always be under threat. Trees cannot be saved without being identified,” says urban conservationist Vijay Nishanth, who, along with four others, conducted the census in three wards. He adds, “Two years back, BBMP had promised to implement Project Vruksha all over the city. But nothing happened”.
Project stalled in the past
Former deputy mayor Harish, who had promoted this project across Bengaluru, says, “Project Vruksha had been allocated Rs 4 crore as scientific mapping was the need of the hour. With this project, at the click of a button, one could get all the details regarding the tree cover in a particular area. However, BBMP forest cell officials killed the project and hence Project Vruksha got stalled.”
“The project would have exposed the prevailing corruption in BBMP as crores of rupees are billed in the name of plantation of saplings and felling of trees across Bengaluru,” adds Harish.
MLA Priya Krishna, however, assures, “I will take up the issue of implementation of this project with the BBMP commissioner who is open to new ideas. This project, which was taken up in my constituency, is very scientific and ideal for the city”.