BBMP plans to cut trees around IISc

Bangalore Environment

The idea is to widen C.V. Raman Road, they say.

Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) plan to cut down trees near C.V. Raman Road has raised concern among environmentalists. BBMP is planning  to white top the road and widen it in order to avoid accidents. 

BBMP is constructing an extra lane to make the road between Sadashivanagar police station and the main gate of Indian Institute of Science (IISC) equal as the road is narrower towards IISC’s side. B.S. Prahlad, Chief Engineer of Roads at BBMP said, “IISC is not ready to spare extra land. We are constructing the road to avoid accidents on that road.” 

The project area has 147 trees. BBMP issued a notice to chop off 14 trees on March 26 and also invited citizens for any suggestions or objections within ten days.

Sandeep Anirudhan, an environmentalist said, “The engineers don’t seek alternatives when such issues occur. They can try to take up land from both the sides. Instead, they can acquire land on one side and construct the road uniformly.” 

In January 2021, BBMP had similar plans to cut trees at the entrance of Athashri Road from Swami Vivekananda Road in the city’s Whitefield area. The trees were to be cut to build drainage system along the road. However, citizens formed a group called ‘Namma Whitefield’ and opposed the idea. BBMP heeded to the demand of people and changed the plan. BBMP Major Roads engineer      Ramakrishna Reddy called a meeting with the residents and no trees were cut in the area.

M.H. Bala Subrahmanya, senior professor at Indian Institute of Science said, “It doesn’t make sense to cut down trees in the area. Rather than white-topping, BBMP can construct good asphalt roads.”

White-topping of roads is considered the ultimate solution for potholes. The roads are considered durable and cost-effective. Potholes are one of the major problems of Bengaluru. The roads last up to 25 years, much longer than black-top roads which require to be tarred every three to four years. However, there are certain criteria which need to be kept in mind while in construction. The engineers must have all the information      about the utilities running underneath the ground because white-top roads are long-term commitments and need not be disturbed for at least 20 – 25 years.

Rahul Sokhal, a civil engineer said, “White-topping of roads is done by clearing the bitumen asphalt roads (black-topped roads) and layering with cement concrete. The base should be at least three inches thick.”

The white-topping project was taken up by BBMP in 2016 with 147 kms of roads proposed to be white-topped. It costs around Rs. 10      crore per km. The project has been halted numerous times because of several reasons like uneven roads due to improper construction, traffic, complaints by the residents of the areas, or irregularities in construction. This has led to delay and increase in the cost of the project. The work was on halt due to Covid from May 2021. The construction resumed in July, 2021 after seeking permission from Bengaluru traffic police. Earlier, the traffic police had rejected the proposal.  BBMP has planned to finish white topping in different parts of the cities in 2022. The work is taking place in a phased manner.