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Translocating trees and a runway surrounded by nature

Authorities at Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport have begun the process of translocating 7,095 trees over the next three years — one of India’s largest such programmes — as part of a Rs 13,000 crore airport expansion project. The overhaul process will include a new terminal, widening of access roads as well as a new multi-modal transport hub.

So far, the thousand-odd trees that have been transplanted since March have seen a survivability rate of upwards of 85%. For this initiative, the Bangalore International Airport Limited has tied up with the government-run Indian Institute of Science and automobile major Volvo, which is providing hardware, including its special tree transplanter truck.

Some of the tree species which have shown high success rate are coconut, silver oak, palms, cycads, and rain trees. The first phase, which started in March, will continue till August and cover a stretch of 4 kilometres.

Prasannamurti Desai, vice-president of landscaping at the airport said, “We are able to translocate as many as 18 trees in a single day starting from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm using the mechanised translocator. All these trees are either translocated to a pre-identified suitable spot or otherwise preserved in the nursery until a suitable spot is made ready.”

He added, “We have to follow traditional methods for trees with a girth of above 45 inches and less than 6 inches. Using the conventional method, the process takes about three months as it requires adequate care and protection.”

The new terminal is expected to be operational from October 1 onwards and will have a three-story “forest belt.” This is designed to create an immersive, calming outdoor experience for both arrival and departure passengers. Trees, small gardens, and ponds featuring local and exotic species of plants will line the interior.

Airport authorities also note that the land surrounding the new runway will be carpeted with lush greenery, making it the first in India and only the third in the world to have green corridors around the runway.

“The objective is to avoid felling of trees and, instead, relocate them to a place where they can further improve the aesthetics of the airport. All this is to ensure that the landscape is in sync with our garden-themed Terminal 2,” Tom Shimmin, chief projects officer for Bangalore International Airport Limited told reporters.

“Some of the existing tree are unique species and not available in India. Our aim is to ensure that we don’t lose out on the existing ones. In keeping with Bengaluru’s image as the Garden City of India, BIAL has tried to reflect this image at the airport by creating world-class landscapes,” he added.

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