Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Building plans must factor in trees

Mysore Urban Development Authority (MUDA) and the city corporation should factor in tree-planting around residential and office buildings; and no building plan should be sanctioned without compliance,suggests Mr Raghotham Rao, retired civil engineer, former Lions Club president and social worker. Lions Clubs include urban tree-planting as part of their ongoing service activities. As someone who has been president of a local Lions club, Mr. Rao acknowledges the help received from the forest and horticulture departments in his club’s service activities.

He suggests honge and kas-kas are conducive to roadside planting in residential areas. In front of his house at Vidyaranyapuram Mr Rao has a honge that he planted seven years back. He devotes to it the care and affection he gives to his grandchild; his roadside honge gets periodical check-up and ‘hair-cut’ by expert tree-pruner Mr Hyder Ali Khan. The roadside honge owes its growth to Mrs Gowri Rao, who nursed it during the plant's initial year, as work and social activities often took Mr Rao away from Mysore. But then Gowri, being daughter of a forest official, has natural affinity to trees.

Mr Khan’s expert hands have nursed the rows of trees in front of the Nanjangud temple, Mysore’s Idgha Maidan, at Shantala Talkies and several other places. If he is not more widely known, it is because Mr Khan is not in on promotional trappings of the digital era – he doesn’t run a website; doesn't even have an e-mail ID. Mr Khan's cell number – 98451 59067.

Mr Rao, who has spent much of his working life at irrigation reservoir sites all over Karnataka, is familiar with tree-planting, which is taken up by the department on canal embankments and staff townships near dams and reservoirs. He recalled the guidance they got from a retired forest department officer, Mr Ellappa Reddy, who used to visit dam sites and canals and recommend the types of trees suited to their soil and site conditions. Mr Rao, who has been inspired by Salumara Thimmakka, never tires of relating her quote - Manegondu mara, wardinge ondu vana.

Mr Rao's contact mail: raghotham2003@yahoo.co.in

1 comment:

guru said...

It has been my experience (my last visit to Mysore was brief and was about 10 years ago) that Mysore has become warmer and this is a factor which needs attention when trees are planted and left to themselves. I know how much I struggled during my limited number of days stay then to save our coconut tree and pomegranate tree from death as the soil became dry and needing enrichment, and my relatives had little time for that as they thought that these trees were of nuisance value, and were prepared to buy the coconuts and fruits from shops. In my days in Mysore, our garden supplied a variety of fruits and vegetables some of which we shared with our friends. But this required hard work and time and a bit of knowledge of trees , plants , soil and fertilisers. The consequence was that the houses of my boyhood friends which had garden with trees had now gave way to concrete pathways,garages and small tennis courts.

My observation then was that there was a generational change (we had plenty of lessons touching forrest, trees and nature in our days in state primary schools) and the middle class kids these days went to private primary schools, and the curricula had very limited mention of things related to environment. The kids were heavily into computers and computer games. These kids would be the very men and women facing the severe environment problems that Mysore is going to face in a few decades.

People in Indian cities these days I assumed are so busy battling with their daily problems that they simply have no time to think about matters concerning the environment.

Mr Rao and similarly minded people
have uphill struggle, and my mind tells me that Mysore will be no better in the next decades.