Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which is woefully behind schedule in planting trees, says it will get cracking in July, a good time for tree planting. Recently, The New Indian Express had reported how the BBMP has not planted a single sapling in more than a year when the funds were approved in the previous year's budget.
Now, Mayor B S Sathyanarayana is writing to all councillors, asking them to identify the space and roads where seedlings can be planted.
The Forest Cell in BBMP had called for tenders in August last year, hoping to get approval. But things did not move as the budget was not presented. Then the BBMP budget was passed in November. "It was off season for planting seedlings. During winter, the moisture would kill seedlings. So we did not plant any seedling in 2013-14," BBMP Chief Conservator of Forest Brijesh Kumar told Express.
BBMP later called for a tender in December 2013 to plant seedling in July 2014. "The tender was finalised in February this year. But we could not give the job code because the electoral code of conduct was in force. We will give them the job code soon," Brijesh said. With this, BBMP will take up the planting of 1.7 lakh seedlings approved in last year's budget.
The Mayor now wants the councillors to decide where they want the saplings planted. He however said that they have not fixed the number of saplings per ward. "Wards in outskirts have more space compared to the old wards. We are ready to give as many as they demand, but it is their responsibility to take care of those saplings. We shall inspect the areas in the coming days," he added.
Former Deputy Mayor S Harish said was a good move to involve councillors in planting saplings. He blamed the forest department staff for planting seedlings in places where they are not needed. "Once I get a letter from the mayor, I will convene a meeting with the local Resident Welfare Association as well as Ward Committee members. This way, we will involve the public too," he added.
Siddapura councillor Udayshankar said he would involve individual residents of his ward in this initiative. "I will invite housewives to plant seedlings in front of their houses and if it is an organisation like a hospital or a college, I will involve the staff," he said.
Environmental activists have welcomed the move. Vinay Sreenivasa from Hasiru Usiru said there are only 22 employees in the BBMP forest department. "It is practically impossible for them to look for seedling space in all 198 wards," he said. He hopes now that councillors are involved, more vacant land will be identified and the BBMP will supply more seedlings.