Activists protest plans to axe 180 trees in Bengaluru’s All Saints Church for metro

Activists, residents, and church personnel of All Saints Church staged a protest in Richmond town against Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited which is mounting pressure on the church to hand over 4500 sq mts of land for its use. The land, which is inside the church premises, will be used by BMRCL to keep machinery and other equipment required which will be used for construction of Namma Metro’s Phase II project.

Popularly known as the ‘Garden Church of the Garden City’, this 150-year-old church on Hosur road also houses a school for children with learning and cognitive disabilities as well as an old age home. There are also hundreds of trees belonging to 13 different species, making is one of the only few places in the city to have this variety of fauna, apart from Cubbon Park and Lalbagh. The city will lose major green cover and lung space if BMRCL goes through with its plans, activists say.

Protestors argued that when the BMRCL approached them for the permanent acquisition of the property, they agreed to grant them 3500 sq mts as against their requirement of 200 Sq mts (as per BMRCL’s Detailed Project Report [DPR]). Now however, BMRCL is demanding control over all the 4500 sq mts. Activists also allege that the BMRCL has now deviated from the original DPR – the metro line was supposed to go under Hosur road; but now, the authorities have planned for it to go through the church compound, meaning that about 180 trees will have be axed.

Environment activist Arun Prasad argued, “The fact that the BBMP is installing air purifiers itself shows that the pollution level in Bengaluru is increasing and parallel to that they are cutting the trees. What is the BBMP up to? Felling trees in the name of development is not acceptable.”

Activists fear that with the declining number of trees, diseases like asthma, dust allergy, lung infections, and temperature fluctuations will soon become epidemics in Bengaluru. The authorities in power are being irresponsible by converting lush campus into a concrete jungle, they say.

Kumar Jahagirdhar of the NGO CRISP (Child Rights and Shared Parenting) was also present at the protest said that after consulting with experts and multiple meetings with BMRCL, they had arrived at some solutions which could be easily implemented to protect environment without major change in alignment and cost. They suggest:

1. Move to metro station 75 meters to the left. This can be easily implemented without damage to environment

2. Move the track under the road (currently the track is proposed under the church compound), which will save the church campus.”

The activists argued that the civil engineering and structural engineering is very advanced, thus implementing projects without cutting trees can easily be done. In the interest of the natural environment, human health, heritage and the city’s future, BMRCL officials should not fell the existing trees, and carry out the development in an eco-friendly fashion, they maintained. 

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