Concerned citizens of the city, who in the past had stopped the four-laning of the Kankanady-Nandigudda road to save trees, took up the issue again on Tuesday. This time, they put up a feisty fight at an official consultation attended by MLA J.R. Lobo and officials from the Mangalore City Corporation.

Besides making a strong case for saving 43 trees, which would have been felled as part of the road-widening plans, they elicited an assurance from the MLA that more consultations would follow. Sparks flew as participants insisted that half an hour was too short a time to discuss and decide the issue. About five people objected to the hurried manner in which a decision was being taken. They said the issue required elaborate discussionsand could not be disposed of in half an hour.

When Mr. Lobo said speakers should put their point across quickly, Vidya Dinker, Citizens Forum for Development of Mangalore, said, “You are insulting the public of Mangalore (by allowing them just half an hour in which to come up with opinions)”. Mr. Lobo said he had no intention of insulting anybody and that her words were “instigating the public”. The issue was “very limited” so it had to be covered within half an hour or else it could go on endlessly, he said.

Ms. Dinker sought more information on how the four-laning fitted into the Greater Mangalore Plan. She said smaller meetings on specific lines should be held before any decision was taken on the issue. She said Eric Ozario and she had approached the courts after 2009 when the road had 49 trees. Later, the MCC felled five trees.

Mr. Ozario said nobody could cut the trees as there is a court stay on their felling. Suresh Shetty, Parisarasaktah Okkoota president, said the discussion should not be reduced to one pitting greens against those who are pro-development. He said, “Don’t make it so simplistic as ‘you want it or not’.”

Perspective

Participants presented various views including that any decision on the road should be taken from a “human centric” and not a “vehicle centric” perspective; that any decision could be taken on the roads but first footpaths must be laid on the existing roads. One participant said the road does not have covered drains, endangering the lives of pedestrians.

Mr. Lobo said attention would paid to constructing footpaths. He said, “Yes, footpaths are required everywhere. This year is ‘year of footpaths’.”

Dharmaraj, engineering consultant and adviser for the infrastructure development committee of Mangalore City Corporation (MCC), said asphalt roads are costlier than concrete roads. But Ms. Dinker said that was pointless as concrete roads are cut up frequently for various reasons.

Some felt the road must be turned into four lanes regardless of the trees. One person said, “Don’t we kill trees when we build our houses?”

Mr. Lobo said further discussions would be held on the road issue with interested citizens on the four-laning of the Kankanady-Nandigudde concrete road. Trees would be cut only where necessary. He said, “We will save as many trees as possible.”

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