Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bulbuls attracted to fruiting palm in garden!

I love those red vented perky Bulbuls with their noisy, inquisitive calls in the garden. But with our garden city becoming a chrome and glass monstrosity with gardens few and far between where we live, it has been a happy surprise to find the Bulbuls are back! The exotic palms that we have in the garden are heavy with fruit. I don't think they are edible by man so we have the Bulbuls during the day and the bats at night!

The fruit bats can be scary as they swoop in when you least expect them, brushing almost past your ears as you park the car or come in late from a show at the club.

I had hoped the Bulbuls would nest in the Raat ki raani or in the bougaenvillea, but thats stretching it a bit too far! They come in bright and early and its a nice medley hearing them go peek, peek flashing in and out of the fruit along with the more sedate Ashy Prinias call as it hops on the hibiscus branches looking for insects to feed on.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Electric buses for Beijing!

Standing on the edge of the road waiting for the diesel bus thunder past engulfing you in a miasma of choking smoke, it is hard to argue against wanting electric vehicles to become the vehicle of 2012. Buildings and motorized vehicles are responsible for the majority of CO2 emissions in cities. in the battle against climate change cities are trying to coax die-hard motorists to adapt to electric vehicle technology by introducing electric vehicles for public transport.
At the ITF 2011 in Leipzig, sitting in side event that paid tribute to Innovators in the transport industry, Henry Li a senior Director of BYD Company in China unveiled his country's plan to unleash a fleet of electric buses on the roads of Beijing to help cleanse the choking pollution of the city. " There is an urgent need to change to solar run electric buses in Beijing which is considered the most polluted city in the world. There is an urgent need of these buses and one bus will take the place of 30 private cars and one solar taxi the place of 10 private smoke belching cars."

Noise levels are lowered, diesel consumption is reduced and there is no heat radiation, said Lee. "This is a great help in cutting emissions in the city areas and it also makes transport accessible to all."

So in conclusion Li said, Electric cars and buses are the quickest way to reduce CO2 emissions from the city centre.

There is however a paradox ! The bus is so silent that it can cause accidents due to its noiseless movement!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A tree is greviously mutilated on World Environment day 2011

It was World Environment Day and India had the honour of hosting the International World Environment Day 2011 for the very first time. Mr Jairam Ramesh our erudite and enthusiastic environment minister called trees ‘water pumps’ and paradoxically the event was devoted to ‘Forests: Nature at your service’. As a media fellow of UNEP I was proud to sit in the sudience and listen to Mr Ramesh tell the world that India was among the developing nations working towards addressing the pressures of ecological change. He told us about India’s Rural Employment Act and the country’s encouragement of renewable energy use to scale up green growth.

In a press session I brought up the shame of the felling hundreds of ancient trees in Bangalore in the name of infrastructure works. Was there a policy in place to replant and nuture the trees that had been felled? I also asked Mr Ramesh about the spiralling levels of pollution in Bangalore and how was it that Delhi was so much cleaner than I remembered when I visited 10 years previously? CNG was the secret answer and why cant our policy makers do the same here rather than having an asthmatic wheezing population growing every day?

Far away down South in Bangalore a tree planted by me and my baby sons 15 years ago was being decimated and mutilated on Castle Street at that very moment.The beautiful spreading branches of the Camel Foot tree we had planted and nurtured, was hiding the huge and ugly board of the Netralaya Mantralaya which had just opened its hospital doors. “ Madam the tree is not letting us to have a grand opening of our hospital, so I have trimmed it,” said the contractor, to the massive felling of half the tree.

Dr. Bhujang Shetty the eye surgeon whose hospital it is refused to comment and just laughed off my complaint.

Mr Krishnappa the Deputy Forest Conservator of the BBMP said, “ Do you have photos to prove it was cut by the hospital? If you do not have photos and you do not make a written compalint there is no proof that they did it and we cannot take action! Do what you want!”

In desperation I called Dr MH Swaminath who is the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Resource Management. “ Are you saying they have already cut the branches?” he asked. I replied in the affirmative and said I had pictures of the branches thrown in the garbage dump a little further up the road.
“I will immediately take action Madam” he said and promised to get to Krishnappa about filing a case against the hospital about the damage done.

I have no idea if anything will be done. It is indeed a shame that Bangalore steps back and allows this vandalism in the name of progress. A tree saves us from the dust bowl Bangalore has become and if a hospital cannot understand that God help us all.
‘Green Delhi’ was the martial cry in the capital and the tree cover I saw was phenomenol. What do we in Bangalore have to say in response? Can we ever green Bangalore the Delhi way? We were the garden city once upon a time. We need stricter laws and many more Dr Swaminath’s who will respond when we call. And we do need citizens who will act to help our silent tree friends who are being mercilesslyfelled and destroyed.

UNEP Chief Mr Achim Steiner said, “ A tree standing has more value than a tree cut. Development must work with nature and not against it.”

So save our trees if you can help them is my earnest appeal. They clean up our pollution for free. If we understand the enormity of the job they do for us, we would all rise up in arms to have a cleaner, greener and more healthy Bangalore.

(The writer covered the World Environment Day 2011 in New Delhi as a fellow of UNEP)