Do read the entire length of this one.
Cement roads that promise a pothole-free ride, sidewalks with pavers, ingenious seeming lighting systems, separate tracks for cyclists……seems smart, doesn’t it? But don’t you think we would love a little more shade and some natural perches for birds and insects?
As the city undergoes the so called transformation into a Smart City, many seem ignorant of what it will eventually lead to.
1. Come Summer and the concrete will not seem such a cool idea because of the heat it traps and eventually radiates.
2. Come Summer and there is just no space to find shelter from the sweltering heat because there are just no trees around
3. Come Monsoon and there is just no space for water to seep through and the runoff will lead to flooding, not to mention, the lack of water percolation will lead to wells running dry
4. With layered construction of roads using rocks at the base and cement all around, any trees that are put in place will not have enough space to establish roots and in all likelihood will topple over when subject to a strong gust of wind. And with no trees to act as windbreakers, stronger gusts of wind are almost guaranteed.
Is it too late? I hope it is not.
There can still be a rethink about the way we are making our city smart. It is just a matter of conscious thought. We can still make the best of whatever spaces we have.
1. Keep spaces for mid sized trees when the roads are being built. They wont interfere with the rest of the work provided they are given just that little space and true access to soil.
2. Demarcate other regions in the city to construct urban forests
3. Preserve the existing large trees by making them as heritage trees. Dont conveniently chop them to make way for electric cables; we need to find our way around them rather than through them.
4. Plant trees in institutional and industrial compounds to compensate for whatever trees are lost.
5. Do not consider dropped leaves as litter and burn then. Put in systems to collect them for composting.
6. Involve people and organizations in planting and maintaining trees
Yes we can go ahead with all the smart roads with their conveniences and maybe a few trees will be lost but we can more than make up for it with better planning. The 3rd gate to Goaves road is almost proof for what can be done although the trees would appreciate a little more space.
A Smart City with an adequate balance of greenery is still possible provided we all realize the eventualities of being conveniently ignorant.
Let us learn to cohabit this wonderful city of ours with other species including the trees that contribute to making things as beautiful as they can continue to be.
The Author is an Academic Counsellor, Trainer, and Career Advisor presently working as a Training and Development Officer, KLE Society, Belagavi. He is also the founder of Green Saviours, an organization dedicated to tree plantation and environmental conservation in Belagavi.