The road from General Post Office (GPO) towards the Balekundri Circle has a road divider with some big and beautiful trees. All the soil on the divider has been scraped off leaving the tree roots exposed so that they can topple down anytime. The trees will be cut soon when the road is relaid.
Chief Conservator of Forests (BBMP) Brijesh Kumar told City Express, “Those trees will probably be cut. But the Engineering Department of BBMP has not approached us for permission yet. The roads are being redone at a cost of `3 crore per kilometre and trees on the median don’t help. I am for trees at all times. But in this situation I cannot do much.”
One of the trees is a Raintree with a wide leafy canopy and pink and white flowers (Samanea Saman).
There is a tree with big purple flowers called the Queen’s Flower Tree (Lagerstromia speciosa), there are Pongam Trees (Pongamia glabra) and others. All of them provide shade and help in cooling the roads in this hot summer.
Harini Nagendra, a scientist at the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bangalore, says: “If the trees are left without enough soil around them, they will not have enough support and fall down. Temperatures around the area will certainly increase. It is strange that city planners have not realised the importance of having trees on roads to bring temperatures down.”
Harini had led a study which was published in the international journal ‘Urban Forestry and Urban Greening’ on how trees bring down temperatures of roads and the importance of wide canopied trees near crowded traffic areas.
Harini added, “We need more trees with wide canopies on roads, in those areas where there is maximum traffic and near busy signals where traffic halts for a long period of time and people are exposed to maximum air pollution.”
Vinay Srinivasa, a city-based social activist, asks, “How will cutting the trees help in any way?”
Dr Meenakshi Bharat, a gynaecologist and a tree lover, says, “It is okay to remake roads. Why do the trees have to go, however? From air conditioned city, Bangalore has turned into furnace city.”
Bangalore has lost many tree lined avenues and the balmy weather of the city has turned hotter by two degrees. This is BBMP’s attempt to add fuel to fire.