A night vigil for the trees


After fake alarm on chopping of trees, residents keep eye out on Old Airport Road

Even as the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is showing no mercy to the protestors who have been opposing the removal of 25 heritage trees for the construction of an underpass on Old Airport Road, a bunch of people kept a night vigil to stop the civic body from cutting trees when the city is asleep. Residents, who spent a couple of hours at midnight at the spot, apparently came to the junction following an alert from a passerby that the BBMP workers were chopping off trees.

While some residents came from as far as Rajajinagar, others later joined them from nearby. When the protestors were at the junction between 10.45 pm and 1 am on Monday, they even went around to check if the BBMP vehicles were around. They want the BBMP to tweak the alignment of the underpass or drop the project permanently to save the trees. Also, residents wonder why the civic body is building an underpass at a ‘T’ junction when similar infrastructure interventions are provided on junctions where four roads meet.

“There was no thought of building an underpass when the HAL airport was the only airport functioning in the city. The Old Airport Road was one of the busiest in Bengaluru. The authorities then wanted to preserve the canopy of trees and protect them. Now, there is a full-fledged airport in another part of the city. There is no need for an underpass at this junction,” Kiran Kumar DS, a resident of Rajajinagar, said. He was among the five people who rode to Suranjan Das Road junction to ensure that the BBMP does not cut trees at night.

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Felled from grace: 7 down, 18 to go

A majority of the 25 trees identified for felling are umbrella-shaped, massive and evergreen. Some are at least 50 years old with a trunk size of at least 4-5 metres

Another resident of Vinayak Nagar said the junction does not see too many traffic jams. “Assuming that there is an underpass at this point, where will the traffic get shifted to? We will spend the time saved in this junction at the next junction,” he said. This junction is at least providing shade for motorists as they wait for the green signal, he said, adding, “This is better than waiting in the signal under the scorching heat.”

So far, the BBMP has axed eight rain trees that are about 50 years old. The civic body has proposed to axe down a total of 25 trees. In addition to these, officials have already trans-located seven trees.

BBMP Administrator Gaurav Gupta was not available for a comment.



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Sagar Biswas

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