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How green will my city be, 20 years hence?Add to Clippings

[ SATURDAY, JUNE 05, 2004 04:25:14 AM ]

Garden City. Silicon Valley. Bangalore city has many identities. Even as we grapple with its growth (it is the fastest growing city in Asia), we wonder, what its future will be. On the occasion of World Environment Day, Bangalore Times , along with the environmentalists, takes a peek into the future of the city —20 years from now.




Water is the elixir of life. We all know it. But what will Bangalore's water situation be like 20 years from now?


I Pledge...

On World Environment Day you can make a pledge to protect and preserve your environment. Here is a list of pledges you can make:


1. I will switch off my television, rather than leave it on stand-by. Over the year, this reduced use of electricity will save about 30 kg of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, which is equivalent to the amount absorbed by 10 trees.


2. I will plant one tree. Over the next 100 years, this could absorb around 300 kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.


3. I will replace each one mile car journey per week by walking, cycling or taking a bus. Over one year, this will prevent around 27 kg of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere — and possibly more, depending on how big the car engine is. This is the same amount as that absorbed from the atmosphere by nine trees.


4. I will start re-using plastic bags when shopping. If I throw out four bags less a week, this will prevent 208 plastic bags ending up in a landfill site.


5. I will turn the tap off while brushing my teeth. If I brush my teeth for four minutes a day, this will save about 28 litres of water a day and around 10,000 litres in one year.

"We are on the brink of disaster," says V Srinivas Raju, managing trustee, Navachetana trust. "The reason is that we are depending only on one source for water. Also, we are disbanding the lakes, the water tanks including Thippegondanahalli — we are looking at drawing water from Cauvery, 100 km away. This can cater to only 20 per cent of the requirements." Unlike other cities in India, Bangalore is located at an elevation of nearly 980 m, and is away from any major rivers. "Depending on only one source has been the curse of every city." Of the 262 lakes, there are only 81 now. They were linked through surface and underground links, so they never dried up. But with roads and layouts, the links have been lost and the lakes are drying up. Suresh Heblikar, environmentalist, says, "We are paying heavily for it now — it's not easy to create water."


Verdict: If we continue with the path we are on now, coupled with the growth of Bangalore and the resulting demands, we will only court disaster.


Need of the hour: Experts reiterate the need to rejuvenate Bangalore's lakes. Saving water through rain water harvesting and using available water in the right manner.




Bangalore was known for its salubrious climate and clean air. However things are different now. According to Yellappa Reddy, environmentalist: "I don't think air pollution is going to come down in this city." He says there are many issues that needs to be tackled to provide the city with cleaner air. "Adulterated fuel used by vehicles does not help. The roads are in a bad state and each time  brakes have to be applied, unburnt hydrocarbons are released.  We can see the effects of all this today. Nitric oxides exceed the danger level. Terrestrial ozone is a dangerous health hazard. Headaches, burning eyes are due to this. With rampant construction all over the city, cement and sand particles enter the air. Individually the emission from industry may not be much but cumulatively it may be."


Verdict: Twenty years from now, respiratory diseases are going to multiply and children will be worst affected.


Need of the hour: If we don't plant more trees, we are in for big trouble.




Hopeful future

Two nationalised banks in Bangalore are doing their bit for the environment:


Want not, waste not

Most corporate offices remain indifferent to the large amounts of waste they generate says Wilma Rodrigues of  Sahas, but State Bank of India proved to be an exception. In St Mark's road they have created a compost pit for organic waste generated from the canteen and offices. "The senior management immediately sanctioned the waste management programme proposed by Sahas,  in collaboration with Dr Balasubrahmanyam of SHOW," says SBI's B Raghunath. Wilma says, "The compost is useful for landscaping. It's a win-win situation."


Power from the sun

Canara Bank has been granting loans for the purchase of rooftop solar water heaters and lighting systems at low interest rates. "We also offer ‘energy audits' to companies who approach us," says P Mohanan, DGM, Canara Bank, "After all, a unit of energy saved is equal to two units used."

When Bangalore decided to shift its focus from being the Garden City to IT City, it may have gained worldwide recognition  but experts say that it is also moving towards severe environmental crisis. Large tracts of farmlands and forest areas have been acquired by the government for the city's expansion. Trees are being felled at a drastic rate, and without a thought to future repercussions. The BDA is also clearing the sites of all trees. "They could sell the sites with the trees, leaving the option to the owners," says Leo Saldanha, co-ordinator, Environment Support Group, "This could save thousands of trees, as the BDA is acquiring  thousands of acres." Vast quantities of land between Electronic City and Whitefield is being acquired for the IT corridor, which will severely damage the greenery of Bangalore. This includes the vitally important wetland stretches including Bellandur. Here, farmlands and public lands will be levelled to build offices, residences and golf courses. Around Banerghatta, land including the green belt and the Bangalore-Mysore Corridor Project will cut through the state's wildlife corridor. "What happened with the Borivilli National Park where the park came into city limits, will happen here," says Saldanha, "The future of wildlife, in this scenario, is bleak."


Finally, the Arkavathy which provides a third of Bangalore's water supply, will be affected by the proposed Arkavathy Layout in the vicinity. "When public agencies plan such large scale land acquisition and tree-felling, it's difficult to stop private agencies from following suit."


Verdict: Massive urbanisation, loss of greenery and wildlife and a severe water shortage owing to major climatic changes from indiscriminate tree felling.


Need of the hour: "Greenery and water go together. Keeping Karnataka's landforms intact is essential," says Saldanha.


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