Monday, April 10, 2006

The desertification of Bangalore

Some years back the area behind HAL Airport was a favorite haunt for our weekly birding outings. This place is rich in bird population and only a small village broke the dark green expanse of scrubs, trees and a swamp. Which is why as we drove up this road on Saturday I was shocked to see the place totally changed. I was driving my cousin sister to an interview at an IT company that has sprung up where the village once stood. Most of the scrub forest in this area has been cut and the green grass burnt to make way for another yet techonopolis. Even the swamp will be covered soon to make it stable to erect another building. This swamp used to be the haunt of so many water birds.

I was devastated and after dropping off my cousin sister at the place took a walk down the road. I spotted an Ashy Prinia. It came quite close to me. I have been very lucky with birds. Last time I went to Ooty Kousik told me to look out for Black and Orange Flycacher. It is a highly endangered species. Apparently he had waited in vain at the Ooty Botanical Garden to spot one with no success. But to my surprise and delight this bird came and sat on the electric fence of the Tamil Nadu Dairy Development Board estate RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. Unfortunately I had only my Minolta aim and shoot camera. Then I saw another one taking an evening bath in a bucket near King’s Cliff. Again the Minolta and a really bad shot of this beautiful bird.

Anyways to get back to the area behind HAL airport…..I walked around what was left of this once sylvan paradise and saw several other birds. The whole thing was an outrage against Nature. I realize that development has to take place. But what about the creatures that ensure our survival on earth? Trees are cut down without even bothering to see if there are nests on them. In my part of Kerala, a nest means cutting of the tree is delayed till the nestlings have flown off. It’s simple village logic.

These technopolises are concrete deserts with not a single tree save for a few ugly Palms for landscape. Indigenous trees are essential for birds to build their nest on. But these technopolises are landscaped with alien bushes and dwarf trees. Trees are razed and lawns planted that require huge amount of water to keep it green. Borewells are being sucked dry to supply water to these companies leading to water depletion. Villagers watch helplessly as the tankers come and draw water as no formal permission is needed to draw water from borewells. Garbage being dumped into lakes caused a revolt a few months back with villagers burning the corporation garbage trucks.The amount of plastic that Bangalore generates is mind bogling.

Most of these buildings are built with glass sheets like their western counterparts. These buildings become heat traps (which is beneficial in western countries as it reduces heating bills) due to the fast heating glass, which in turn puts a burden on the AC Plant that in turn works harder to cool the building letting out huge amount of hot air into the atmosphere. No wonder summers in Bangalore are blistering.

I wonder if these companies (including the one that employs me) would be this callous with their Environment back home. India it seems is for exploitation and Indians in their mad scramble for investments are just not worried at the devastation that development have done to Bangalore’s environment.

And the government wants to bring in more and more investment into Bangalore. We don’t have the roads, water, accommodation, garbage clearance or sewage facility for this. And that is why most old Bangaloreans like me heaved a sigh of relief when the SemIndia Inc deal went to Hyderabad.

I read somewhere that we should give God the
IPR for creating this Earth and the cosmos. I fully agree.


Dr. Pissed said...

I miss my bangalore :(

Mind Curry said...

its not like development and nature cannot co-exist. just that we dont care enough. for every tree cut we can plant another (if not 5 more) in specific areas within the areas of development itself. pollution control is another thing totally. but new delhi, in the last one year especially, is one example of how efforts can bring down pollution and up the greenery.

very well written post. i can see its something close to your heart.

Sarah said...

I am not sure if I would even recognize bangalore when I go back..When will people stop their greed and live and let the good old days?

Matter of Choice said...

alas the ugly side of progress

Jiby said...

felt depressed...wonder what in nature will be left for future generations to savour??? in our short lifetimes itself we have so many losses to talk about. will god and evolution somehow rework their amazing creation and somehow save this earth???

the environment ministry says that the area under forest cover is increasing every year for the last 7-8 years and that they want to achieve a 33% of india's total area under forest cover by 2015 which has been accepted worldwide as a standard replacement level. right now the figure stands at 23%...reading your post i wonder if they really are getting their stats right.

silverine said...

@Alexis; That's shocking!!! I thought at least the Malyalees so renowned for planting trees in every nook and corner of India would not go the same way :(

@Dr Pissed: Me too *bawl* :((

@mind curry; Thank you. This indeed is a post close to my heart. That news on Delhi is heartening. Development and Nature must co -exist or else we as a species is doomed.

@IC: Bangalore is totaly changed. the gentle town is now a raging monster :( Even I don't recognise Bangalore anymore.

@MoC: Ugly and dangerous side..

@Jiby: There will be no future generation of humans if there is no Nature. We are destroying the very environment that has made the Earth a habitable place for us. Every single water body is polluted.People get such kick out of spitting or dumping waste into water. I wonder where we get such a mentality? On the way back from Vailankanni early in the morning you will see an amazing sight. That of people lined up inside the Cauvery brushing teeth, washing clothes, bathing and filling up water at the same time. I havent seen anything more unhygienic or stupider. Why cant they just stand on the banks and complete their constitutionals?!

Dewaker Basnet said...

while doing my volunteering work with Janaagraha few years back, i had to go towards airport road for a story...venturing towards the vicinity of kemp fort, it was so ironic to see that at one side you had all the flashy high society entertainment hangouts (amoeba et al) while stark opposite to it you had these slums where people are sometimes deprived of their daily breads..
maybe that's a diferent story though...
but ya relief that technology is shifting to hyderabad...
5 years and hyderbadis would be writing complaint blogs like us here in Bangalore:)