Over 50 trees and close to 600 branches have fallen since Saturday evening

Apart from inundation and power cuts, the rains that have been battering the city in the last few days have brought down as many as 56 trees and 596 branches since Saturday evening. Sunday saw another six trees fall due to heavy rain. This comes two weeks after 63 trees and 75 branches had fallen on May 7.

Weather and tree experts attribute the high number of tree falls to ‘very localised high speed gail winds’ with a speed of over 40 kmph, which is over five times the regular wind speed.

G.S. Srinivasa Reddy, Director, Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Cell, said gail winds, along with lightning and thunderstorm activity, were features of pre-monsoon showers. As gail winds are localised, it was difficult to either predict or measure them accurately, he said.

“These are dusty winds and the speed will cross 40 kmph, something observed on Saturday as well,” he said, adding the branch of a healthy Honge tree, which is otherwise quite strong, fell near his house indicating high wind speed.

Vinay Sreenivasa of Hasiru Usiru had a similar story to tell. “A healthy coconut tree just snapped into two and fell in front of our house. Not often you see a coconut tree snap,” he said.

Civic officials said most of the trees and branches that fell were predominantly of four varieties – Peltophorum, Spethodia, Jacaranda and Gulmohar – all soft wood ornamental trees vulnerable during strong wind and heavy rain.

“Almost 90% of the trees that fell were Peltphorum. These trees were planted in 1981-82 as part of a social forestry drive and are ageing. But most trees that have fallen were not diseased,” said Cholarajappa, Deputy Conservator of Forests, BBMP.

He said extensive road works had led to weakening of the root system of trees making them more vulnerable. When quizzed whether the high number of tree falls were a result of BBMP not pruning and felling vulnerable and diseased trees, he said over the last two months the civic body had removed over 655 trees and over 3,500 branches. “Most of the trees and branches that have now fallen are healthy,” he said.

Vinay Sreenivasa said the forest cell of BBMP is woefully understaffed – 12 for the whole city. He added the city lacks a tree policy, which is the need of the hour.

Suspension of flight operations

Heavy thunder showers led to suspension of flight landing for 34 minutes at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) on Sunday from 8.10 p.m. This led to diversion of eight flights – six to Chennai and two to Hyderabad. This also led to a delay in arrival of six flights and departures of eight flights. KIA was cleared for flight activity around 8.45 p.m.

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