Mysore’s P K Sanatorium, taking a leaf out of the Bangalore University, can turn its 100 acres of open area close to the sanatorium into a thriving greenland. The authorities in Mysore appear to have other ideas. A recent visit to the sprawling sanatorium campus revealed that the district forest department, taking possession of this land, have planted jatropha on nearly half the area. The sanatorium authorities appear to have no say in this development. It may be mentioned that the land we are talking about was gifted by the maharaja to serve as the much-needed green space for patients in the sanatorium.
I wish someone in the media takes this up; and publish a picture, if only to give people an idea of what is at stake; and enable them to judge for themselves, if a jatropha plantation on this vast open space would be the best option, envioronmentally. Folks we met at the sanatorium expressed fears that when once this open space is brought under jatropha planation, it would be tough to undo the environmental deprivation of the now available space that has potentials for a rich mix of vegetation.
The forest department move to grow jatropha is in line with a recent media report suggesting that a local bio-fuel company wants to take this land on 20-year lease for jatropha plantation. In the absence of a critical follow-up story in the media; and with no one raising serious objection the jatropha plan may well become a fait accompli.
For what it is worth, a Bangalore Mirror story (Feb.14), by Niranjan Kaggere, gives an account of how the Bangalore University authorities went about the transformation of the 300-acre campus of thorny bushes and boulders (in 2000) into a greenland, rich in flowering and fruit-bearing trees attracting avian population to the campus.
About 100 acres, initially identified for forestry, was covered with contour bunds and check dams were developed to hold water, and enable it percolate to raise the ground water table. Preparing the land for planting took about a year.
Over 50,000 seedlings were planted over the area, with students pitching in with shramdhan. As much as 80 percent of planted saplings survived. Bangalore University campus, being an enclosed area, was conducive for fruit-bearing and fibrous trees. Existing vegetation was not disturbed and they took up only gap planting.
The Hindu report - Bangalore University celebrates Planet Earth - said they planted 300 varieties of saplings, including jackfruit, bilva, matti, pipal, bela banni and bamboo. Nearly 150 varieties of butterfly have been identifed in the area. The Bangalore University campus has a commemorative garden (Smriti Vana) and also enclaves developed for growing bonsai and medicinal plants.