Namma Metro has an action plant for the trees she cuts

For Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL), greening the city is a matter of give and take. The company planted 9400 young trees in 14 different locations across Bengaluru last year, anticipating the Supreme Courtpermission to cut trees for Metro projects. To do the job well, the company decided not to depend on the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and engaged in two private organizations to undertake compensatory reforestation instead.

According to details uploaded to the BMRCL website, The Nurserymen Cooperative Society Ltd and United Way of Bengaluru, have planted 9,400 saplings on behalf of Namma Metro organization. A majority of them are planted on lake, railway and army land. Officials said private agencies were responsible for maintaining and watering the plants for the next three years.

“We had taken offsets during the last monsoon season in anticipation of a favorable High Court ruling. We planted 10 saplings to compensate for each tree that will be chopped or moved. We will be planting more saplings during the next monsoon season, ”said Ajay Seth, CEO of BMRCL.

Subway projects have stopped in at least seven places, including Bannerghatta Road, Tin Factory, Kadugodi and Kothanur because it did not get permission to fell trees. Since 2018, the BMRCL has come under scrutiny by the High Court after a public interest litigation (PIL) challenged the BBMPhow to deal with tree removal permits without following due process.

BMRCL officials admitted mistakes had been made in the past in submitting applications for fewer than 50 trees instead of considering the environmental impact on the entire stretch of the metro project. “We have undertaken the course correction,” said an official and added that the BMRCL would take its own compensatory plantings by engaging with private agencies. “The BBMP used to plant saplings on the median, but the survival rate was not high. We are therefore going to undertake massive reforestation in one place, ”he said.

The official also said that they were able to complete the metro project on Kanakapura Road only because approval for the tree felling arrived on time. “Otherwise, the project would have met the same fate as that of other projects,” said the officer.

The PIL also seems to have pushed the BMRCL to take compensatory planting a little more seriously. Annapoorna Kamath, who has been actively involved in the rejuvenation of Lake Jakkur, said BMRCL took care of the saplings they planted in the lake lands.

Professor KS Bhat of the Sarakki Lake Improvement Trust, said about 90% of the roughly 650 saplings planted by BMRCL have survived. “The BMRCL hired two people to water the saplings each day. A motor pump has been installed to use the water from the lake for watering the young trees. Our volunteers say that the young trees are watered regularly, ”he said. He said the lake had space to plant about 1,000 additional saplings. “We have given a list of 26 native species that can be planted,” he said.