Will the government declare the Hesaraghatta grassland as a reserved area?
As the countdown begins for the September 5 meeting of the State Board for Wild Life, attention has turned to the government on its decision to protect the Hesaraghatta Grassland.
In January 2021, the proposal to declare 5,010 acres as a Greater Hesaraghatta Grasslands Conservation Reserve under Section 36A of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 was rejected due to objections from Yelahanka MLA SR Vishwanath.
The Karnataka High Court, however, quashed the council’s order stating that the decision “reflects the non-enforcement of the spirit”. The court ordered the board to take a fresh look at the proposal.
Sources within the council have confirmed that the conservation of Hesaraghatta is on the agenda. “The matter will be discussed. Ultimately, the decision is left to the government. We hope the grasslands will get much needed protection given the growing pressure,” the source said.
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The declaration of the prairie as a reserve area crushed the government’s grand plans to build a film town in the area. Once declared a reserve area, the government must set up a management committee to advise the Chief Wildlife Warden on the conservation, management and maintenance of the grasslands which are home to a unique ecosystem.
According to the biodiversity report submitted in the previous meeting, Hesaraghatta is home to 133 types of birds and 40 local natural plants. The Department of Livestock, which holds title to the majority of the grassland, has agreed to declare it a reserve.
Wildlife photographer and activist Mahesh Bhat, who has worked extensively on the Hesaraghatta and studied its role as a catchment area, said grassland protection was necessary to ensure water security for people in the surrounding region.
Rainwater in the lake
“Hesaraghatta has multiple positive roles. Bengaluru experiences flooding even during light heavy rain, but the 60mm of rain recorded yesterday (Monday) is neatly stored in the lake,” he said.
He also noted that it would make the second largest green space in Bengaluru, after Bannerghatta. “Studies have shown that grasslands sequester more carbon than forests. Given the challenges of climate change, Hesaraghatta has a crucial role to play,” he added.
Activist Vijay Nishanth said government must complement people’s commitment to protect grasslands. “This is an opportunity to raise the bar,” he added.
An online petition on Jhatkaa.org, launched to rally support for a campaign to protect the grasslands, saw 44,000 people approve the request.