If you are against indiscriminate tree-felling, road-widening, and the privatization of lakes in Bangalore….

Here’s a message from a friend, about a meeting I consider it important to attend:

There will be a meeting at Environment Support Group (ESG) at 3.30 pm tomorrow (Sat. 5th), to discuss and strategise on two very important issues concerning the city.

1)The BBMP has touted a road-widening program on 91 roads ( to be extended to 123) of Bangalore. Since the announcement of the scheme, ESG and Hasiru Usiru have been opposing the project, as it is irrational and against all basic principles of design and planning.

Some of the major concerns are:
— considering the number of vehicles getting registered in the city there is no guarantee that the road-widening programme will solve the problem. In less than two years the situation is likely to be back to where it is now.
—road widening measures focus on mobility of vehicles and not people.
—livelihoods are being threatened as widening in effect leads to acquisition of properties, including those which are being used to run businesses.
–road widening will lead to felling of over 30,000 trees. This will have long term implications. The worst repercussions will be seen on the ecology of the city, and the micro-climate which is already being affected due to heavy pollution and concretisation.
— there is absolutely no thought being given to mobility and safety of pedestrians, cyclists, hawkers, differently abled people and other road users.
Experts in urban transportation and planning have expressed their opinion that this crisis needs to be addressed through a comprehensive traffic management, traffic reduction, and public transportation policy. Short-term measures like road-widening will only destroy the character and the ecology of the city.

2) The Lake Development Authority has leased out four lakes (hebbal, agara, nagawara, vegainakere) to private entities. While Agara is being used for walking, jogging and recreational purposes, Hebbal Lake has been used for customary and traditional occupations like fishing, grazing and irrigation. In addition, birdwatchers have been visiting these wetland habitats regularly documenting the excellent diversity of migratroy waterfowl. All these lakes, and Hebbal in particular, have been the subject of numerous scholars and researchers studying wetlands, birds, aquatic life and so on.
We sincerely believe that it is an unnecessary and damaging investment to now lease out these very lakes for advancing commercial interests. Besides being illegal this will take away our public commons and our natural heritage and will only benefit a few commercial entities. This loss will be dear and felt by present and future generations.

On both these issues ESG has filed Public Interest Litigation in the High Court of Karnataka.

Legal measures are proving to be useful in these cases, but PUBLIC SUPPORT IS EXTREMELY POOR. The city belongs to each one of us, and there is nothing more progressive than citizens being involved in preserving and conserving the resources, spaces, character of this city.

105, East End ‘B’ Main Road
Jayanagar 9th Block East
Bangalore – 560069.

Bangalore’s roads have become increasingly cyclist-unfriendly over the years. If you want to reverse this trend here’s your opportunity to do something about it.
Most people think “There’ll be thousands of people there, it does not matter if I don’t go”. Unfortunately, most people’s protest does not extend beyond their armchair, and the average gathering is of about 15 people.

So please do take part yourself, and forward this email to as many people as you can. Please start taking active part in Hasiru Usiru and ESG’s campaigns.

Every person counts.
Whenever you feel that this issue is not important enough for you to spend a few hours every week, please remember this poem by Martin Niemöller:
“In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”

His poem is well-known, frequently quoted, and is a popular model for describing the dangers of political apathy. It can be applied just as well to apathy on the environmental front.
Oral and moral support are useless. We need to be there in large numbers physically whenever required – in court, at meetings, etc.

Kindly email Divya at divyarrs@gmail.com if you are coming so that she has a count of how many people are going to turn up.


1 Comment so far

  1. dreamwarrior on July 21st, 2008 @ 6:48 pm

    Can the ESG file a PIL to limit the number of new registartions? This is because unless the process of registration of new vehicles are stopped, nothing is gonna change. On one side, there should be a phasing out of old and battered vehicles aplenty on the roads of Bangalore. Then ban the licenses of offenders who have violated the traffic rules thrice. Then make the auto drivers demand the correct fare from the commuters. Enforce the air pollution and noise pollution acts strictly.

    If the number of vehicles thronging the roads of Bangalore comes down, the present ecological discomfort will come down in Bangalore.

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