29 March 2008

Chainsaw massacre

Above: A victim of the CMH Road chainsaw massacre.

One thing I love about Bangalore is its trees! Almost every road is lined with huge ancient trees on either side stretching their long branches over rooftops and meeting in a canopy over the city's streets providing some much-needed oxygen and shade from the scorching sun. But in the past few weeks, some of the city's arteries have witnessed a massacre of sorts: trees are being chopped down to widen roads and make way for the much anticipated Bangalore metro.

Though most people support the Metro project as a solution to the traffic problem, many are unhappy with its proposed design. 33km of track will run from the North to the South, and from the East to the West of the city with 32 stations along the way.

Above: Signs of discontent.

The problem is that the line will not be completely underground. Some parts of the city will have an elevated track crossing commercial areas like MG Road in the centre of the city and CMH Road in Indiranagar. This will radically change the urban landscape, replacing trees with concrete in what used to be called the 'garden city'.

Above: Work on the metro is underway on 100 Feet Road in Indiranagar. These trees are probably the next victims.

Above: CMH Road in Indiranagar looks barren without the trees which were spaced every 10 metres along the length of the road.

Above: The contrasting image of another stretch of CMH Road that has escaped the massacre.

Residents and shopkeepers in Indiranagar lobbied to have the CMH Road stretch of the Metro pass underground to avoid the demolition of buildings and the chopping down of trees but it looks like they have lost their battle. Many now grumble that this is another example of bad urban planning that Bangalore is a victim of. 'Driving Bangalore ahead' seems to be the motto of the Metro Rail Project. Again, this is another reminder that development always comes at a price.

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