The other day, a friend from Hasiru Usiru got news that some trees were being felled at a construction site near the Indian Express building. A few people including me went to investigate and see if we could do anything about it. It didn’t take us very long to discover the site. When this group reached the spot, we discovered that trees had not been felled as yet, but branches of one tree had been pruned and pruned rather extensively.
On asking the contractors if they intended to cut the trees which were in the vicinity, they said that they were awaiting permission to cut the trees. They said that they were merely contractors and that all questions should be directed to the police housing board that was in-charge (This is a triangular plot right behind the Indian Express building where a police station used to stand and the final output of the ongoing construction activity is not exactly known).
What struck me about the entire project was the way in which the excavation had been carried out. There were two trees at two different corners, and the excavation had been done in such a way that the roots of the trees were left completely exposed and there was a very real chance that the trees would topple over into the excavation site.
Contractors then use this reasoning to cut down the trees on the pretext that such a tree poses a threat to the life of the construction workers (which while true, would not have happened if the area surrounding the tree and its roots had been left untouched).
This is what I call the theory of inevitability and you will find this theory put into practice in every development project. If there is traffic jam on the road, then the trees on the pavement and the pavement become the casualty of the theory of inevitability (to make space for the additional vehicles). Trees have to be cut down and parks have to be sacrificed else the Metro project cannot be completed. There is no parking space for private vehicles and therefore the pavement becomes the de-facto parking space. The list is endless.
But there are still places in Bangalore where the theory of inevitability has not yet become all that evident. Move around areas of older Bangalore specifically Basavanagudi, Jayanagar and you will find some amazing sights for e.g., Houses constructed in a manner which allows for coconut trees to pass right through them rather than cutting down these coconut trees. And although examples like the one above are few and far between, they represent an era where there was a genuine attempt to minimize the damage to nature.
Having come from Bombay (I moved to Bangalore 3 ½ years ago), where there is next to zero greenery (if one excludes the Sanjay Gandhi National Park), and after having lived in South Bangalore for close to 3 years which is home to Lalbaug, parks and more parks, it is indeed sad and heart-wrenching to see the wanton destruction of Bangalore’s greenery, which is such an integral part of the city’s landscape. The last thing people want is for Bangalore to turn into another Bombay.
However, there is still hope. Groups such as ESG, Hasiru Usiru along with scores of concerned citizens have time and again demonstrated (literally and figuratively) that they will not take things lying down and their work is beginning to reach the ears of the government. However the campaign to keep the spirit of Bangalore intact will be long and challenging. One hopes that it is this spirit and not the theory of inevitability that prevails.