Reclaim Palace Grounds, Army lands and Forest lands to set up Urban Forests and Lakes!
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In the past, the Royal Family of Mysore, and the British Army, were provided tracts of land within Bangalore city, for functional purposes, but have now outlived their relevance. At present due to historical reasons those lands are now occupied by the descendants of the erstwhile ruler, and the Indian Army, while neither have real functional purpose to be present here. As the pressures on the trustees of these lands increase, there is degradation of these lands by increased use.
At the same time, the city itself is under huge pressure due to over-development, and is becoming unlivable due to pollution, lack of tree cover, lesser rains, degraded soil, and ground water aquifers. There is urgent need for dedicated URBAN FORESTS, that should never be touched, which could have a beneficial influence on the city's climate, air quality, temperature, rains, water, etc.,
The Palace Grounds and Army lands are clearly demarcated areas, that could easily be converted into forests under dedicated protection of the Forest Dept.
1) The Palace Grounds belonged to the erstwhile Mysore Government. With India having got its freedom from its previous princely rulers, the property ought to have passed on to the people of the country. There is no logical reason for the descendants of the previous hereditary rulers to be holding on to these lands. And the family has caused excessive damage to this land already. What used to be a rich, dense tropical forest, is now denuded, the trees have all been axed, and it is now a bare barren ground which is rented out to exhibitions, amusement parks and weddings............. What was entrusted to the family for safe-keeping, has been treated with utmost insensitivity and disrespect.
2) The Army's huge lands within the city, is part of the colonial legacy. Earlier Bangalore was a cantonment city. Under colonial rule, the British maintained armies in all cantonments to subdue local populations! But now we are a free country. The army belongs to us, not to an invading British. The army's job is not to be in a city, looking over us, but at the borders, defending us. There is no real reason for them to be present in a bustling metropolis. In fact, it is an unnecessary distraction for them, a logistical and budgetary nightmare for the army to operate within this crowded city, leading to its own challenges. The army deserves lands in rural areas which are suitable for training purposes, and take the Urban lands back from the Army, Air Force and Navy, unless they have a real functional purpose to be present in the city. This would be a win-win! The army would also benefit by getting exclusive and dedicated bases outside of populated areas!
3) RESTORE other Forest Lands within the City, such as the Kadugodi Forest, which on paper is 711 acres, but in reality only 100 Acres are forested now. Remaining have been strangely allotted to other departments such as Industries dept, to the Goodshed terminal, a container corporation terminal, or to villagers for agriculture, BY IRRESPONSIBLE OFFICIALS! How could Forest lands be even touched? Please expedite the removal of all these encroachments by govt and private agencies, and afforest them immediately. Forest lands need to be treated sacred, PERIOD! Please make the laws on Forest lands water tight, and prevent any alternate uses! What we need are more forests, not less!
WHAT TO DO WITH THESE LANDS? - Build Biodiversity Reserves within the city, to mitigate Climate Change!
Hand them to the Karnataka Forestry Department, with the express and STRICT purpose of creating Bio-diverse URBAN FORESTS AND LAKES ONLY! These lands should not be used for anything else!
These forests and lakes are necessary to ensure that the micro climate of the city returns to a livable condition, that the ground water is recharged, that the tree cover is returned to some extent and temperatures are brought down.
More importantly, we need forests in the city that are guarded and nurtured, so that citizens of the city do not lose connect with nature!
Put together, all of these forests, will give the city a few more lalbagh and cubbon park scale of Urban forests. This is our last hope of recovering the lost legacy of Bangalore as a Garden City!
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