The much-delayed tree census, which was finally taken up in March this year, came to a halt with the lockdown. Though restrictions have been eased considerably, work has yet to resume.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s Deputy Conservator of Forests H.C. Ranganathaswamy told The Hindu that the Indian Wood Science and Technology (IWST), which was entrusted with the survey, had completed training volunteers and developing an app. “But because of the lockdown, the survey work could not be completed. Though it’s been relaxed, volunteers are hesitant to resume,” he said, and added that the civic body had been pressuring the IWST to resume the survey work.
According to sources, a meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday to discuss the way ahead
While the IWST is in charge of surveying trees by the side of roads, streets and parks, the State Forest Department is surveying those on private properties and campuses. Mr. Ranganathaswamy said before the lockdown, the IWST and the State Forest Department had together surveyed around 8,000-odd trees.
Though the survey is to be completed within three years, as per the MoU, given the number of volunteers, it may be completed within the year, despite the delays. “When registrations were opened for volunteers to be part of the tree census, there were nearly 500 botany graduate and post-graduate students who signed up for it. They were all trained by experts in the IWST,” Mr. Ranganathaswamy said.
Vijay Nishanth from Project Vruksha Foundation pointed out to the inordinate delays in taking up the survey and said environmentalists had been demanding the civic body to take it up for nearly four decades. “Though budgetary allocations were made, it didn’t see any fruition,” he said.
A petition in the Karnataka High Court by the Bangalore Environment Trust and environmentalist D.T. Devare had pointed out the same, while also complaining about the non-implementation of several provisions of the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, 1976.