Roadside plants suffer due to construction work

City Environment

But BBMP says they are cared for well

By Queeneerich Kharmawlong

Bengaluru: Roadside plants in the city are dying due to poor maintenance by the BBMP and the horticulture department.

Shaaf Zubairi, a resident of Yelahanka, informed The Observer: “The BBMP doesn’t even give a second look after planting trees on roadsides in residential areas. These plants cannot survive without constant care. With people throwing garbage on roadsides and constant construction, there is no way plants will survive without maintenance.”

Narayana Swamy, a BBMP contractor at Mahadevapura, said: “We water the plants at an interval of 15-30 days, and make sure these plants don’t die.” During the lockdown, it was mandatory for them to water and maintain the plants once in 30 days. “For any new construction, the party concerned must replace the plants that got damaged. However, it is advised to avoid wear and tear of these plants,” he added.

Construction waste is often dumped over roadside plants, killing them and causing pollution. Most of the time, seedlings do not grow because of insufficient water and poor soil.

Chandrashekar, deputy director of horticulture, said: “Watering of plants is done twice a week; it’s thrice a week during summer. When road construction is completed, the plants on dividers and the sides are of that region are replaced.” These plants are often trimmed, and replaced whenever necessary.

“One of the major problems we are facing is that people step on these plants while crossing the road,” the officer added.

Ranganathaswamy H.S., deputy conservator of forests, said: “The BBMP department concerned replants the vegetation after any construction. However, the timeframe for planting is not uniform. The forest department is only responsible for re-plantation at construction site worked by the state government. Private companies, however, are responsible for replanting of damaged trees at their respective worksites.”

Suresh Heblikar, the founder of Eco Watch, said: “Our NGO is not focusing on conserving roadside plants in the wake of a constant digging of the roads for underlying cables, water pipes and widening the roads which destroy the quality of soil. It would be a waste of resources as the state government is more inclined towards developing roads and the Metro than maintaining the street trees. Pedestrians are also least bothered about roadside plants. They do not think twice before throwing garbage and spitting on them.”

Ranganathaswamy said the BBMP has been funding the forest department to plant trees in developing areas of the city. The BMRCL is responsible for the re-plantation of roadside trees when the construction of a track is completed; it also transports rare vegetation meant for plantation on roadside areas.

In contrast, K. Salimatti, a manager at the office of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, said they give funds once in four years to the BBMP forest department for planting on the roadsides.

Seedlings are sowed once in three years on roadsides. A gap of 6 meters is maintained between two plants. These plants are maintained by contractors on a tender basis assigned by the BBMP. The forest department gets its plants from nurseries.

Ullas Kumar, an environmental researcher at the Deccan Conservative Foundation and Eco Watch, said: “The BBMP is planting aesthetics plants like African Tulips on the roadside, which only gives the city an aesthetic appearance. However, these plants do not release high levels of oxygen as compared to local plants that provide required oxygen for a city like Bengaluru. Additionally, these plants have been disappearing, hence depleting the oxygen level. Even with the plantation of new plants, it will take about eight years for this vegetation to give oxygen and fight against the air pollution the city is currently facing.”

There has been an increase in lung diseases caused by air pollution, which is equally dangerous to that of the coronavirus, Ullas added.

Citizens can register a complaint on the BBMP website or the Sahaaya app, or send an email to the authority concerned if they find plants being damaged.


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