POINT BLANK: Complex problem of tree planting in city

MLA Ramdas forms ‘Co-ordination Committee’

By K.B. Ganapathy, Editor-in-Chief

Reading the headline of a news item this morning titled ‘Green Mysuru Initiative from tomorrow — Aim is to increase tree cover of the city and district, says Forest Department,’ my heart leapt in joy for the reason the trees illegally or legally felled in our city and district will at least be replenished, thus help maintain the existing green cover.

I recall my college days in 60s when we students would come out of the classes during monsoon on a given day known as ‘Vanamahotsava’ started by the then Union Minister K.M. Munshi and plant selected tree saplings supplied by the Forest Department in designated places in the college or school premises.

The college authorities would also ensure that these saplings are protected from stray cattle and vandals. These saplings were never planted underneath the electric power lines, close to the college or school building or close to the edge of the playing grounds. Luckily those days, we had very responsible and intelligent teachers and forest officers with common sense to ensure common man is not put into any kind of inconvenience when the trees grow big and tall. Imagine, in our city tall growing Rain and Gulmohar trees with heavy foliage and branches that spread out for 20 to 30 feet are planted recklessly. There is no trimming or upkeeping of the trees to make them safe for the people who use the road and look beautiful.

The worse is our representatives like MLAs and Corporators do not respond positively when taxpayers complain that the concerned Forest Department or MCC or MUDA does not respond to the complaint justifying their action blindly saying the tree saplings are of ‘dwarf’ variety. But, in fact, the MLAs do not inspect and find out the truth for themselves.

Just 15 days back I had taken up the cause of the residents of K.C. Nagar where tall growing tree saplings were planted under the power line and Forest Department was justifying it saying they are of dwarf variety. I had to put pressure on MLA S.A. Ramdas to remove those saplings below the power lines. It was done. But the Forest Department did not remove the saplings that they planted under the power line on the main road of K.C. Nagar, Jayachamarajendra Road. What do you make of this? They removed only what the MLA, always in a hurry, showed the Forest Department personnel. I hope at least after reading this (if at all) the remaining saplings planted under the electric power line in other areas also would be removed. A pious hope of a humble tax-payer.

Now let me come to another intriguing complaint from the Forest Department itself against the MCC. The report in ‘The Hindu’ says, the Forest Department has expressed its dismay over the concretisation of Mysuru with hardly any space provided for planting new saplings to increase the green cover of the city.

The official who addressed the media was upset because the footpaths in the city are being covered by interlocking tiles with hardly any space provided for planting saplings and they have complained in writing to the MCC in this regard. The irrationality of the officer’s remark made many journalists smile derisively. And what did the officer say? He said, when the local planners provide space for electricity poles and drawing of cables, they don’t provide space on the footpath for planting tree saplings. I am sure this particular officer who said this has visited cities in the developed countries but not noticed how they are planted. I will not be surprised if tomorrow this officer starts planting trees on either side of Devaraj Urs road and Sayyaji Rao road.

Common sense should dictate the footpaths where trees could be planted and which variety. Otherwise, the roots of the trees would soon upturn the interlocking tiles and destroy the footpath unlike the electric pole. Anyway, why not they plant the saplings on the side of the road where there is no overhead power line?

When I talked to our MLA Ramdas about this issue, he spoke of something bombastic; he said he has already formed a Co-ordination Committee for planting tree saplings comprising officials of the Electric Department, UGD Department, MCC, MUDA and Horticulture Department so that they will plan in detail the project of planting trees in city areas in a rational, scientific and aesthetically suitable manner, not forgetting to prune the trees periodically instead of hacking the branches.

This, MLA Ramdas said, would prevent officials from planting tree saplings for the purpose of official record and wash off their hands claiming in a grandiose manner “Mission Accomplished.”

Can one imagine planting of cashew tree saplings three feet away from the side-walls of Kalamandira? Yes, they have. This tree grows 20 feet high, the dwarf variety, with very wide wing (branch) span.