Killing Cubbon Park, tree by tree: Ex-judge

BENGALURU: Retired Justice Michael F Saldanha has slammed the government and the Horticulture Department for taking up a Rs 1.5 crore landscaping and beautification project at the Cubbon Park. 

In a three-page letter addressed to the horticulture minister and the department of horticulture, the retired judge has termed the project "a planned destruction under the label of beautification". 

"A set of ignorant cum corrupt human beings without any public consultation have started on one more scheme whereby they have 

vandalised all the lawn areas using heavy machinery spending crore of rupees among other things and have destroyed the tree cover," the letter reads. 

The move has angered the conservationists since the manicured lawns will put pressure on water consumption. A 20-acre lawn is being planned to be raised in the area between UB City, Hudson Circle and Central Library.

Justice Saldanha has also referred to the cutting down of 176 sandalwood trees in the park in 2010. No action was taken against the errant officers. In 2011, the last big sandalwood tree was axed and stolen. 

Talking about his tenure, he writes that though he passed a judicial order to plant saplings at the start of the monsoon, every year Rs 60 lakh was shown as the amount spent on digging pits but on the ground nothing happened. 

"When I personally scrutinised the area for three years in succession, I was told by the department that the saplings were stolen and that the rain had filled up the pits," the letter points out. 

The beautification will take place along the lines of landscaping at the international airport and is said to be carried out in three phases. 

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