7,000 trees to be moved to make Bengaluru’s new airport terminal green

With concern mounting over the disappearance of vegetation in legendarily lush Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), the authority building a second terminal at the tech city’s Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) has resolved to dig up 7,095 trees that would have been destroyed by the expansion, and replant them in the new landscape.

It is no simple task: depending on the species and size of the tree, an entire-root transplantation can take up to a week, said Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), the airport operator.

But it is determined to honour the "Garden Terminal" theme infusing the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)-designed Terminal 2, and will use a Volvo Tree-Transplanter which, in a good run, can relocate up to 17 trees a day.

BIAL will also consult with forestry experts to increase the chances of survival of the uprooted trees.

The total paved surface of Bengaluru has increased by a 1005% in the past 40 years, a study of satellite images revealed in 2017, threatening to make a mockery of the Karnataka capital’s long-time designation as a verdant "Garden City". 

The $1.9bn new terminal, which includes a new runway, would have accelerated the deforestation already underway in the city, which is projected to be the third-fastest growing city in the world within 15 years, and is a hotspot for high-tech start-ups. 

"We will transplant trees wherever there is scope to do so," a spokesman for BIAL said.

The logistics of this ambitious arboreal undertaking, to take place over the next two years, will have to be absorbed by India’s giant contractor, Larsen & Toubro, which won a contract worth $456m (3,035 crore rupees) to build the 255,000-sq-m new terminal in October last year. 

Terminal 2, which is expected to increase KIA’s passenger capacity by 25 million, more than double current capacity, is due for completion in March 2021.

Image: SOM’s visualisation of the new "Garden Terminal" at Kempegowda International Airport

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