Bengaluru

Keeping our green cover intact in summer

Cubbon Park is maintained with treated water.

Cubbon Park is maintained with treated water.   | Photo Credit: V Sreenivasa Murthy

It is that time of the year again when stepping out during the day essentially means being sapped of all energy within minutes. But as you take cover under a tree, one cannot help but wonder how our parks and gardens are being maintained in this searing heat. When fulfilling demand for drinking water is becoming a difficult task, where is the water for the city’s green pockets coming from?

Lalbagh and Cubbon Park

Spread over approximately 200 acres each, maintaining the city’s prime lung spaces does not come cheap.

“At Lalbagh, we have a 15 lakh-litres-a-day sewage treatment plant (STP). We have automatic sprinklers. Plus, we have four borewells and a lake. But during summer, we can meet about 75% of our needs. The expense on purchasing treated water from the BWSSB goes up by around 40% (a kilolitre of treated water costs ₹20), and our borewell cost (electricity, repair and maintenance) also doubles,” says M. Jagadeesh, Joint Director, Parks and Gardens, Horticulture Department.

The department’s usual expenditure is around ₹6 lakh a month for treated water and ₹1 lakh a month for borewell water. Cubbon Park is also maintained with treated water.

Parks and trees maintained by BBMP

However, no such environment friendly measures are being exercised in the rest of the city. The BBMP, which maintains street side trees and plants and the nearly 1,000 parks, is largely dependent on borewell and tanker water. The watering schedule has been spaced out a bit to make it once in four to five days instead of once in two or three days.

“We have some very expensive plants that need to be watered regularly them,” said Meenakshi, Chairpersons, BBMP Standing Committee on Horticulture.

Last year, the department’s expenditure was ₹30 crore. Now, the palike has begun thinking of fixing STPs in more parks. “We are also considering having one water sump per park and sprinklers for even distribution of water rather than watering them directly from tankers,” she added.

IIMB, IISc.

Among the first things one notices on entering the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) is the seamless way in which the majestic grey buildings merge with the vast greenery. Gardens and lawns take up around 62 acres in the 100 acre campus. The campus has around 30,000 trees. “We are home to many bird species – especially ground-nesting ones,” says Shiva Kumar K., Senior Manager, Estates, IIMB.

The plants are watered daily, weekly or bi-weekly depending on the species. IIMB has won the Mysore Horticulture Society’s award for Best Maintained Campus.

“We have a 600 KLD sewage treatment plant (STP) in the campus, which is used for watering gardens and plants. There are 57 ground recharge wells to which storm water is diverted through drains,” said Mr. Shiva Kumar. In addition, water for bathing, washing and flushing is arranged through rooftop rain water harvesting during the monsoon. All this is in addition to the three large open wells in the campus to which rain water is diverted through drains.

The Indian Institute of Science is often cited as an example for water conservation. Treated water and rain water harvesting take care of the 22,000 trees on its 400-acre campus.

PSUs

Campuses and townships of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) are well-known for large tree cover. Keeping them plush is treated water that would otherwise go down the drain. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), for instance, has managed to reverse spending on water. The monthly water bills for all its campuses in Bengaluru has been reduced to ₹1.5 crore from ₹2 crore since last November. “We started preparing for summer and an imminent water shortage. We educated people on conservation of water. For our trees and plants, we use only treated water from our own STPs,” said an official from the Facilitation Management Division, HAL.

Urban forests

It has been a season of forest fires and the roughly 7,000 acres of forests in and around Bengaluru are not immune to this problem. Dipika Bajpai, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bengaluru Urban said though fires cannot be prevented completely, the department is keeping a vigil for mischief mongers.

“Another challenge is providing drinking water for animals. We are creating artificial waterholes in all forests and nala bunds,” she said.

The susceptibility to fire depends on two factors: type of tree and access to people. “The cliff in Turahalli is vulnerable to mischief mongers. Other than this, bamboo is most susceptible,” Ms. Bajpai added.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 12:09:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/keeping-our-green-cover-intact-in-summer/article17852357.ece

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