One hundred and thirty-five! That's the number of trees that came crashing down due to heavy rains in just over 24 hours between Friday and Saturday in various part of Bengaluru killing three on the spot and damaging several properties.
But the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials are yet to make up their mind on identifying those weak trees and either remove them or translocate them. Worse, the Palike officials reportedly admitted having not conducted the annual tree audit that could have prevented damage to an extent.
"The tree audit was not completed this time. Trees that fell on Friday night looked healthy, but their roots were weak. Most trees in the important area affected due to the presence of drains or footpaths on one side and houses on the other side. If roots penetrate through drains or houses, they could cause damage. Hence, the roots must be cut. But people protest if we cut trees," reports The Times of India quoting BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad.
He reportedly said that the BBMP is in need of a doctor who would not only evaluate the right kind of tree to be planted in the urban area but will also keep a tab on its health. Further, the commissioner reportedly stated that the BBMP cannot handle the tree health, but it is the duty of the forest department.
But the environmentalist Vijay Nishant has rubbished the BBMP's theory. "The BBMP's tree auditing team is a defunct body of 12 people who don't even have the expertise in tree management," reports The Times of India. Nishant further accused the BBMP of not taking the Weather Department warnings seriously causing havoc in the city. "The Palike could have prevented such damage," reports The Times of India quoting Nishant.
It is surprising to note that despite being aware that the Palike does not have an expert in its capacity to tackle these issues, it did not go out of its way to the identity or appoint an expert on trees. In fact, this is not the first time that the huge trees were claiming lives in the city. The Palike seems to be dragging its feet on the issue. Moreover, the commissioner's explanation that people protest if they cut trees does not augur well at all. The civic agency needs to balance the ecology amidst the urbanisation than blaming people for its inaction.