Bhubaneswar: The civic authority here bears major loss to environmental growth of the city along with financial loss to the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) due to miscommunication and lack of coordination between the councillors and officials.
According to sources at the BMC, local ward councillors demand planting of only a fixed number of trees at their respective wards at their preferred locations and tend to ignore suggestions by experts.
“In a bid to appease voters in their wards, councillors compete among themselves and do not let any ward gain upper hand by planting more trees than in their own ward. Also, these councillors select the location where they want the trees to be planted to woo voters. They tend to ignore the recommendations provided by BMC,” the source said.
According to a report by the BMC, while 9,700 tree saplings were planted in 2006 alone, the city only got about 8,846 trees in past five years. About 3,000 trees were planted last year in 67 wards on an average of 50 each.
Detailing the financial aspect of the BMC’s tree plantation, the source also revealed that the corporation incurs huge losses due to the lackadaisical attitude of ward councillors. “The workers, machines and experts would reach the spot on a scheduled date but corporators tend to either cancel or postpone it to some other day,” the source added.
The reports also mentioned that the BMC, on an average, spent an estimate of Rs.14.6 lakhs in the past five years on tree planting and tree guards. Around Rs.30 lakhs was spent last year in planting of 3,000 trees.
Rated highly on greenery index the capital city, however, has shown a decline in its air quality in past few years. As per the Air Quality Index (AQI) a score recorded between 0 to 50 is termed good, 50-100 rated moderate, 100-200 is unhealthy and anything about 300 is hazardous. While the city had an average score of 45 between 2006-2014 it got an average of 70 in last 3 years.
Responding to this, Kapilendra Sethi, environment officer at the BMC said, “We would certainly like to plant more trees but we are bound by the preferences of the corporators. For instance there are roughly 400 trees planted at CRPF square but the vicinity has a scope to have about 1,000.”