In a novel celebration of Valentine’s Day, several school students in Bengaluru’s Sarjapur participated in a program to show their love for the green cover of the city. The students took time off from school to bring together various ideas they had to show their affection for trees and nature — some drew pictures, some children wrote poems, and others even tied a friendship band around their favourite trees along Sarjapur Road to mark their love.
This was a part of a program organised by Fridays for Future, and Voice of Sarjapura to draw attention to the number of trees that are due to be cut for several developmental projects in the city.
The unique protest assumes significance as around 8,500 trees in Bengaluru are scheduled to be axed by the Karnataka Road Development Corporation (KRDCL) for a road-widening project across the city. Citizens and activists have condemned the plan which will lead to several century-old trees being cut
“When my children heard about the plan to cut down all these trees, they said, ‘Why do they want to do that? What gives them the right?” I see that the children are standing up to fight for what they see as their right to a future with clean air,” says Jyotsana Reddy, a parent of one of the students who took part in the program.
The program also asked that trees that have been around for over be declared as ‘Heritage trees’, since they have been around for more than a century. If a tree is declared as a ‘heritage’ tree, then special conservation laws come into place to ensure that it is preserved, and no harm befalls it.
“We have noticed that the government is not putting the environment first. They are thinking of cutting trees as the first option before looking at any other option in the planning stage. The government needs to realise that they are taking away trees from the children’s surroundings and gifting them concrete. The children are fighting for the trees, birds, greenery and air, which is their right,” Jyotsana adds.
Activists in Bengaluru have been opposing the culling of thousands of trees, terming the move as ‘irrational,’ stating that widening of roads will not improve traffic conditions in the long run but may instead worsen them. They say that the widening of roads leads to the phenomenon of induced demand — where more supply of road space causes people to buy more private vehicles. Instead, activists have asked for better public transport.