BDA could kill grassland


BDA could kill grassland


Posted 14 August 2011, by Jayashree Nandi (TNN), The Times of India (Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd),


BANGALORE: One of the few open spaces which gives you a view of the horizon is a grassland patch of Hesaraghatta. It’s a bird-watcher’s paradise and wintering grounds for migratory birds of prey from Central Asia. But this may soon be lost, thanks to the greening efforts of Bangalore Development Authority which is planting various trees there.

A walk on the 340-acre patch gives you a quick glimpse of colourful birds, including the vibrant Red Muniya. But JCBs and BDA-appointed labourers are in place to plant tree saplings. They’ve already made about 20,000 pits and the plan is to cover the entire area. Furious wildlife photographers and ecologists are frantically trying to tell the BDA that it has chosen the wrong site and could end up killing a biodiversity-rich zone in Bangalore.

“I visit this grassland many times a year, specially in winter, to catch the Harrier which comes from Central Asia. I’ve shot some of my best bird photographs here. There is hardly any understanding of grassland ecology in India. It’s often mistaken for wasteland. That’s how we lost the Great Indian Bustard, a grassland bird. In Gujarat too, acres of grassland have been given to industries. We cannot let BDA destroy the grasslands of Hesaraghatta, it’s too precious,” said Ramki Sreenivasan, a Bangalore-based wildlife photographer.

Mahesh Bhat, a resident of Hessaraghatta who lives very close to the grassland, has been trying to fight tree planting by calling BDA commissioner Bharat Lal Meena but couldn’t reach him. He has sent a detailed report on grassland ecology and birds and animals specific to the Hesaraghatta grassland.

Mahesh told STOI: “It’s very strange they don’t plant trees where it is required but plant them where it can ruin the ecology. From what we have gathered, it’s a Rs 100-crore project to plant 1 crore saplings around the city. It’s ridiculous they’re spending Rs 100 per sapling and half these saplings die. Apart from being a waste of resources, they are also killing a very rare habitat here in Hesaraghatta.” Mahesh is a photographer who has an organic farm next to the grassland. He added that he has noticed Slender Lorises on trees surrounding the grassland as well as peacocks and partridges on the grassland.

“It should be declared a sensitive zone or projects like the BDA tree-planting project will ruin it,” Mahesh said.

(Ed Note: Please visit the original site for more content associated with this article.)


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