Academicians slam Bengaluru’s road widening

71 academicians from Bengaluru submitted a public statement to BBMP on Thursday, slamming the road widening plans. The statement was addressed to S Suresh Kumar, Minister for Urban Development, Mayor Sharadamma, Deputy Mayor, S Harish, A Ravindra, Advisor to the CM on Urban Affairs, K Jairaj, Additional Chief Secretary, K M Shivakumar, Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development Department (UDD), S K Lohia, Director, Urban Transport and BBMP Commissioner Sidddaiah.

In the statement the researchers and academicians from IISc, National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), IIMB and astrophysicists from Raman Research Institute, requested BBMP to look at the environmental aspect before announcing projects that require tree cutting. The statement requested the authorities to look at sustainable alternatives.

The statement was submitted by Dr Harini Nagendra, Ecologist, ATREE, Jahnavi Pai, Ecologist, ATREE and Dr H S Sudhira from Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS), on behalf of the academicians. Harini Nagendra is the author of ‘Green were the citizens?‘ a Citizen Matters special feature  chronicling Bengaluru’s green battles over the years, published this month.

Reproduced here is the statement submitted.

Bengaluruwide road widening is misguided, short term and environmentally destructive: Urgently requires scientific assessment

The recent felling of 18 trees by BBMP along the Sankey tank bund is a fallout of the misguided, short term and inadequate solution to increasing traffic congestion through road‐widening envisaged by Bengaluru’s elected representatives. Traffic congestion is undoubtedly one of the pressing issues in Bengaluru city. However, BBMP has been attempting to address this through ‘supply side measures’ – by way of road widening. On this pretext it has been systematically felling trees that have rendered the streets devoid of any shade or other ecosystem services.

We have reasons to believe that this approach is unscientific and unsustainable. Worldwide numerous scientific studies have pointed out that ‘supply side measures’ like road widening will not solve the problem of traffic congestion. In a congested network expanding the capacity by way of an additional link is only going to increase the traffic and will be counterproductive, as numerous studies have established. Instead, the introduction of ‘demand side management’ measures like regulation of on street parking and congestion tax will be much more useful to tackle congestion.

This leads us to question the felling of trees for the purpose of road‐widening. The trees that were felled along the bund of Sankey tank included Syzigium, Tamarind and 3 species of Ficus – all important resources for supporting urban biodiversity. This felling unfortunately represents just a small fraction of the massive loss in tree cover that Bengaluru will experience as a consequence of road widening. A mega project of road‐widening has been planned for 216 roads in Bengaluru.

There is extensive research demonstrating how street trees are crucial for a city, providing crucial environmental services, reducing temperature and mitigating air pollution, as well as providing important ecological habitats and corridors for many migratory and endangered species. Though the BBMP claims to plant 2‐3 saplings for each tree that is felled, these saplings are not planted on the same roads where felling is done, or even in publicly accessible areas but instead they are planted in remote locations. Their survival rate is poor, and it takes at least a couple of decades for saplings to grow to provide anywhere near the same environmental and ecological benefits that these large felled trees provide today.

A sterile and concretised urban environment is not only unsustainable but also unhealthy for city‐dwellers. We urge that a thorough, scientific assessment of environmental and social impacts of projects must be undertaken, including verification of claims of reduction in traffic congestion, before executing these large scale, ill designed, faulty and environmentally damaging plans for massive road widening at the city scale in Bengaluru.

List of Academicians and Researchers endorsing the Public Statement

1. Dr Arati Chokshi

2. Dr Bhaskar Acharya, Wildlife Biologist

3. Dr Geetha Nayak, Ecologist

4. Dr M.B. Krishna, Ornithologist

5. Dr Ravi Chellam, Wildlife Biologist and Conservation Scientist

6. Dr Robin King, Economist

7. Dr S. Subramanya, Ornithologist

8. Sujaya Rathi, Transportation Planner

9. Dr Aravind Madhyastha, Ecologist, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the

Environment

10. Dr G Ravikanth, Ecologist, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment

11. Dr Harini Nagendra, Ecologist, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment

12. Jahnavi Pai, Ecologist, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment

13. Dr R Ganesan, Ecologist, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment

14. Dr Shrinivas Badiger, Environmental Analyst, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment

15. Dr Sunita Rao, Ecologist, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment

16. Prof Sharacchandra Lele, Environmental Analyst, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment

17. Prof D Jeevan Kumar, Centre for Gandhian Studies, Bangalore University

18. Deepa Srivathsa, Institute of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, Foundation for the Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT)

19. Geetha Suresh, Institute of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, FRLHT

20. Prakash B N, Ayurvedic Physician, Institute of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, FRLHT

21. R Sumathi, Institute of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, FRLHT

22. Tabassum Shariff, Institute of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, FRLHT

23. Dr H S Sudhira, Indian Institute for Human Settlements

24. Prof. A. Damodaran, Economics and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Management

Bangalore

25. Dr. Deepak Malghan, Public Policy, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

26. Dr. Hema Swaminathan, Centre for Public Policy, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

27. K P Basavaraj, Centre for Public Policy, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

28. Prof G Sabarinathan, Finance and Control Area, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

29. Prof G Shainesh, Marketing, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

30. Prof L S Murty, Production and Operations Management, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

31. Prof Rajluxmi V Murthy, Quantitative Methods & Information Systems, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore

32. Dr. Ramya Ranganathan, Organizational Behavior, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

33. Prof Rishikesha T Krishnan, Corporate Strategy, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

34. Sreelata Jonnalagedda, Marketing, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

35. Prof Vasanthi Srinivasan, Centre for Corporate Governance and Citizenship, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

36. Prof A M Umarji, Materials Research Centre, Indian Institute of Science

37. Prof G Ananthakrishna, Raja Ramanna Fellow, Materials Research Centre, Indian Institute of Science

38. Dr Ashish Verma, Centre for infrastructure and Sustainable Transportation & Urban

Planning (CiSTUP), Indian Institute of Science

39. Prof K B R. Varma, Chairman, Materials Research Centre, Indian Institute of Science

40. Prof K K Nanda, Materials Research Centre, Indian Institute of Science

41. Prof K N Bhat, Electronics and Communication Engineering, Indian Institute of Science

42. Dr KV Gururaja, Centre for infrastructure and Sustainable Transportation & Urban Planning (CiSTUP), Indian Institute of Science

43. Dr Karthick Balasubramanian, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science

44. Dr Kartik Shanker, Ecologist, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, and Dakshin Foundation

45. Prof N Ravishankar, Materials Research Centre, Indian Institute of Science

46. Prof. Navakanta Bhat, Electronics and Communication Engineering and Centre for Nano Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Science

47. Prof. Rudra Pratap, Chairman, Centre for Nano Science and Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Science

48. Prof S Ramasesha, Solid State and Structural Chemistry Unit, Indian Institute of Science

49. Prof S A Shivashankar, Materials Research Centre and Centre for Nano Science and

Engineering, and Chairman, Intellectual Property Cell, Indian Institute of Science

50. Prof S B Krupanidhi, Materials Research Centre, Indian Institute of Science and Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research

51. Prof Srinivasan Raghavan, Materials Research Centre and Centre for Nano Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Science

52. Prof T G Sitharam, Chairman, Centre for infrastructure and Sustainable Transportation & Urban Planning (CiSTUP), Indian Institute of Science

53. Prof T N Guru Row, Solid State and Structural Chemistry Unit, Indian Institute of Science

54. Prof C Nanjundaiah, Centre for Economic Studies and Policy, Institute for Social and Economic Change

55. Dr Jayashree Ratnam, Ecologist, National Centre for Biological Sciences

56. Dr Mahesh Sankaran, Ecologist, National Centre for Biological Sciences

57. Dr Mukund Thattai, Cell Biologist, National Centre for Biological Sciences

58. Dr Sandhya P. Koushika, Neurobiologist, National Centre for Biological Sciences

59. Dr. Sanjay P Sane, Neurobiologist, National Centre for Biological Sciences

60. Dr Uma Ramakrishnan, Ecologist, National Centre for Biological Sciences

61. Dr Upinder S Bhalla, Neurobiologist, National Centre for Biological Sciences

62. Prof. Gaiti Hasan, Neurobiologist, National Centre for Biological Sciences

63. Prof. Satyajit Mayor, Cell Biologist, National Centre for Biological Sciences

64. Prof A J T Johnsingh, Conservation Scientist, Nature Conservation Foundation

65. Dr Aparajita Dutta, Conservation Scientist and Wildlife Biologist, Nature Conservation

Foundation

66. Dr Divya Mudappa, Conservation Scientist, Nature Conservation Foundation

67. Dr M D Madhusudan, Conservation Scientist, Nature Conservation Foundation

68. Dr T R Shankar Raman, Conservation Scientist, Nature Conservation Foundation

69. Dr Lakshmi Saripalli, Astrophysicist, Raman Research Institute

70. Prof Ramesh Balasubramanyam, Astrophysicist, Raman Research Institute

71. Prof Vinod Gaur, Astrophysicist, Raman Research Institute

About Harini Nagendra 7 Articles
Harini Nagendra is a Professor at the School of Development, Azim Premji University, and and Asia Research Coordinator at the Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change, Indiana University.

2 Comments

  1. BBMP is not addressing the root cause but rather working out on their cost/ benefit analysis which accrues to them on cutting of the trees and road construction. They have never conducted study of traffic management, and has allowed malls,commercial complex etc to mushroom on busy junction without any study of resultant traffic mess. For instance now there is one 5 star hotel attached with mall coming up on BG road busy junction,imagine after it starts funcioning how the traffic will be and how they are going to manage for which again trees will be cut road will be expanded, TDR will be given to all whose establishment are on roads so vertical unplanned growth will happen which again will add to problems like power shortage, water shortage etc. HERE THE ROOT CAUSE IS BBMP IS NOT CONCERNED ABOUT WELL BEING THEY ARE WORRIED ABOUT THEIR POSITION,POWER,MONEY ……….

  2. BBMP is trying solve the supply side for the current demand and not the future.
    Are we not facing traffic jams daily? How much time it takes to cross each junction?
    Don’t we pollute environment by driving at low gear for hours?
    Once we make the road de-congested, we should think of demand side management.

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