Conservation panel gives list of suggestions to preserve Dodda Aalada Mara
The conservation committee has given a list of recommendations to protect the 400-year-old Big Banyan Tree (Dodda Aalada Mara) – an iconic landmark located in Kethohalli, off Mysuru Road — after heavy rains accompanied by gusty winds on Sunday led to the collapse of a portion of the tree.
The Big Banyan Tree Conservation Committee, headed by ecologist Yallappa Reddy and botanist Sanjappa, visited the site on Thursday and provided several recommendations to protect the tree from natural threats.
“The unexpected heavy rains on Sunday created a whirlwind due to which 300–400 trees were uprooted in the city. The Big Banyan Tree was not an exception. The extraordinary windforce led to the uprooting of a small portion of the tree”, explained Mr. Reddy after his inspection of the site. He added that the committee has recommended the use of a technique to replant the fallen roots in the empty spaces around the tree. “We have given technical inputs in such a way that the enrichment work which will be carried out now will be three times more than the damage caused by natural forces to the tree,” he said.
Local residents allege that the development work taken up by the Horticulture Department near the tree to create a lawn caused the weakening of the roots. “A few hanging roots have fallen down last year and the officials have not cared much about it. This time, it has gotten a lot of attention as a whole clump fell down”, said a regular visitor to the park.
“They have taken up some construction work to make a new pathway and make grass lawns. For this, they have dug up the land and also collected extra soil to refill it from the tree’s base. This is why roots of the trees here are getting weak and not able to stand heavy winds and rains”, alleged R. Mruthyunjaya, a resident and environment enthusiast.
The department as well as the experts committee refuted these claims. “The department is not creating a lawn. Only buffalo grass is being planted there to maintain the moisture levels in the soil and also to prevent soil erosion. That work has had no adverse effects on the tree” Dr. Sanjappa told The Hindu.
Several trees in the neighbouring area were also uprooted earlier this week due to the rain. The collapsed portion of the banyan tree also damaged a gazebo which was built as a tourist attraction. The Horticulture Department claimed that the overall damage caused to the tree is only 1–2%. “Out of around 595 roots, only 6–7 were uprooted”, said M. Jagadeesh, Joint Director (Parks and Gardens), Horticulture Department. He added that the department will start acting on the recommendations of the committee from Friday itself and some of the work will also be finished on the same day.