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Warning bells: Green cover of Bhopal shrinks by 77% in four decades

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Special Correspondent

Bhopal: Warning bells are ringing shrill for Bhopal’s greenery, with a national level study pointing out that in less than four decades, the city’s green cover has shrunk by as much 77%.

The study by prestigious Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, has warned that if the current rate of ‘concretisation’ of the city continues only 4.1% green cover would be left in year 2030. Nearer in future, only 11% of green cover is expected to survive till 2018, the study cautions.

The national level study assumes added significance on face of the fact that the state government is poised to ‘develop’ of the greenest areas of Bhopal as ‘smart city’ hub.

The IISc study shows that in year 1977, Bhopal had 92% of its surface area covered with greenery (vegetation), but it shrunk to 66% in 1992, further to 38% in year 2000 and to merely 21% in year 2014. This means that between 1977 and 2014, green cover shrunk by over 77%.

The study was conducted by Prof T V Ramchandran and his team at Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences.

It used satellite-borne sensors, which compared images over decades and modelled past and future growth to reveal rate of urbanisation in cities and consequent shrinking of green cover.

The study also shows that Kolkata's tree cover fell from 23.4% to 7.3% over 20 years; Ahmedabad's fell from 46% to 24% over 20 years and Hyderabad's cover fell from 2.71% to 1.66% in the same period.


A section of citizens are strongly opposing the selection of Tulsi Nagar-Shivaji Nagar locality for Smart City project, saying that it would lead to felling of hundred of trees and have long term effect on environment of the city.

Economic thinker Rajendra Kothari, who is among the persons campaigning against the site selection, points out that the study clearly shows that the sharpest decline in green cover came during last 15 years when projects like Gammon Central Business District, Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) corridor and railways third line were executed. Also this period saw major real estate boom.

“Now, if the smart city and metro rail projects come up as planned, the 4.1% green cover level would be achieved by 2020 itself instead of 2030,” he said.

City environmentalists say that there are four reasons for sharply diminishing green cover in Bhopal -  
unplanned urbanization, encroachment of natural water bodies in city, depletion of ground and surface water and this shows the plan of sustainable developments has failed.

Amitabh Pandey, associate professor for sociology and community development, Indian Institute of Forest Management says “We can save Bhopal even now. The city is greener than other cities, but builders and town planners need to be given the target to retain this greenery in their project, instead of depending upon initiatives by authorities."