Green Minute News:
With the state government dilly dallying on the proposal for formation of Greater Hesaraghatta Grasslands Conservation Reserve, environmentalists and local residents raise the pitch for protection of 5010 acres of grasslands, scrublands and wetlands in the north western parts of Bengaluru which has hardly any green cover.
Concerned citizens say Bengaluru has been witnessing climatic changes due to repercussions of rampant destruction of green cover of the city, so, it has become imperative on the part of State Government of Karnataka to protect this last piece of grasslands to save the city from heat effect, water scarcity, floods and pollution.
With Yelahanka MLA S R Vishwanath opposing tooth and nail the formation of the Greater Hesaraghatta Grasslands Conservation Reserve and the State Government rejecting the project despite the concurrence of the Karnataka State Wildlife Board members, the issue went to the High Court which has directed the state government to rethink and clear the project.
However, with the legislator and other vested groups spreading the canard that the formation of the Conservation Reserve will jeopardise the lives of the farmers, it has become a do or die situation for the environmentalists to save Hesaraghatta. In the last few decades, the 1.3 crore populace of Bengaluru facing continuing eco-disasters in the form of flooding, development of heat islands and depleting ground water, activists say Hesaraghatta has to be saved at any cost.
On a wet Sunday morning, many volunteers of the Save Hesaraghatta Campaign met at Cubbon Park to display their great concern for saving the Hesaraghatta grasslands and its declaration as a Conservation Reserve to provide a green cover to the international hub of Bengaluru. Hailing from different sections of the society that included activists, environmentalists, biodiversity experts, ex-foresters, IT professionals, local residents and concerned citizens, they collaborated to understand the ground reality and discuss issues that needed to be resolved. Further, they met up so as to plan and take the campaign forward.
This project is being spearheaded by city’s tree doctor and urban conservationist, Vijay Nishanth who drew up a clear picture about the Save Hesaraghatta Campaign. “This campaign isn’t just about conserving nature for mankind but it is also on behalf of the animals, birds, insects and the flora that call Hesaraghatta their home. It is important that we are clear about the purpose of the campaign in order to spread awareness and bring on board many thousands of supporters.”
V R Bhargav of the Biodiversity Management Committee, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) spoke in detail about the unique biodiversity existing in Hesaraghatta and what is at stake if these 5000 acres of land is urbanised. “We need to save Hesaraghatta simply because we need to conserve nature which is our primary responsibility. Undoubtedly, Hesaraghatta is the last remaining grassland of Bengaluru and there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind about its conservation.”
The Save Hesaraghatta Campaign also saw the participation of Chandan and his friends who are all residents of Hesaraghatta. This group spoke about how all the farmers and local people were being misled against the proposal of Greater Hesaraghatta Grasslands Conservation Reserve. The local residents and farmers’ primary concerns and fears ranged from their houses being razed, their cattle not being allowed to graze around the grasslands and the Conservation Reserve area being barricaded or made inaccessible to them.
It was a privilege to see the participation of Jagadeesh Reddy, grandson of late Narayan Reddy who is a pioneer of organic farming in Karnataka. And he reiterated, “For the campaign to yield fruitful results, it is of prime importance to pursue it with a single-minded focus on conservation of nature. Nature is tolerant to a point but when the destruction becomes mindless, she retaliates in a way wherein we are forced to mend our ways. The flooding of many homes during the recent heavy rains is a result of the backlash from nature. It also goes to show that conservation is far easier than damage control.”
Conserving these last remaining grasslands of Bengaluru, activists opined the conservation of Hesaraghatta will not only preserve the existing biodiversity but also most importantly protect the interests of the farmers living in and around this area who consider Hesaraghatta their lifeline.
Anil Thakore who earlier owned agricultural lands at Hesaraghatta provided a comparative picture of Hesaraghatta of the yesteryears and what it is today Even as he described the city’s urbanisation and rampant diversion of grasslands of the area, volunteers understood that a lot of the original habitat of grasslands is missing and people have only been mute spectators so far.
Jishnu Dasgupta, a bass guitarist of the band Swarathma demonstrated his concern for Hesaraghatta grasslands in a musical way by singing a lovely song about Mother Earth and how she is ours, ours to conserve and protect.
Adding a colourful touch to the campaign, Manjunath Lakkavalli, a folk singer drove the message home via a beautiful folk song in a captivating manner. The song encapsulated all the signs from nature regarding conservation that we are ignoring and hence, headed straight for destruction.
The participation of many volunteers at Cubbon Park has given fillip to the Save Hesaraghatta Campaign with an additional 30 members pledging support as they could not make it to the Sunday meet.
Prominent among those pledging support are – Kalya Green, Swayam Jagruthi, Dananjay DC group, Happy World Foundation, Simhadri (Wildlife Team), Cubbon Park Walkers Association, Lalbagh Walkers Association, APJ Abdul Kalam NGO and Student volunteers Triambak and team. The volunteer meet concluded on a positive note, one to provide momentum to the campaign and another to begin a signature campaign in the coming days.