35,000 saplings planted over week­end to add green cheer


The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times City - TIMES NEWS NET­WORK

New Delhi: Mak­ing the most of over­cast skies and a pleas­ant morn­ing, thou­sands of vol­un­teers de­scended on Delhi’s Kamla Nehru Bio­di­ver­sity Park and Tugh­laqabad Bio­di­ver­sity Park this week­end to plant a to­tal of 35,000 saplings and add to Delhi’s green cover.

As part of the fifth edi­tion of Hero TOI Green Drive, col­lege stu­dents, mem­bers of eco clubs and Sant Ni­rankari Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion (SNCF) con­verged on the bio­di­ver­sity parks on Fri­day and Sun­day — the first two days of the pro­gramme in the cap­i­tal.

As many as 3 lakh saplings—of which 1.5 lakh were planted in Chen­nai on Au­gust 31—will be planted across the coun­try this year. A lakh of th­ese will be in the cap­i­tal alone. On Fri­day, the Hero TOI Green Drive reached DDA’s Kamla Nehru Bio­di­ver­sity Park in north Delhi with 15,000 saplings planted over 122 hectares. Ten dif­fer­ent plant com­mu­ni­ties were cho­sen to im­prove the habi­tat there. Th­ese in­cluded Butea­monosperma , Prosopisci­neraria, boswellia, zizi­phus-balen­ites, mi­trag­yna, sal­vadora, dichrostac­hys, wrigh­tia, ster­cu­lia and aca­cia-based com­mu­ni­ties.

Over 500 stu­dents — from Hindu, Mi­randa House and Han­sraj col­leges, among oth­ers — took part in the plan­ta­tion process. Faiyaz Khud­sar, sci­en­tist in-charge at Ya­muna Bio­di­ver­sity Park, said that based on to­pog­ra­phy, al­ti­tu­di­nal vari­a­tions and depth of val­leys, na­tive bi­otic com­mu­ni­ties of Aravalli hill ranges were cho­sen. “All plant com­mu­ni­ties are na­tive to the area and will grow eas­ily in this un­du­lat­ing and rough ter­rain. We now need to pro­vide proper care to en­sure that nil­gai and mon­keys do not tram­ple upon them,” Khud­sar said.

At Tugh­laqabad Bio­di­ver­sity Park, sim­i­lar plant species were cho­sen. SNCF vol­un­teers in large num­bers planted 20,000 saplings in a sin­gle day on Sun­day, with the ex­er­cise start­ing at 8am to cover dif­fer­ent parts of the park. Bindiya Ch­habra, ex­ec­u­tive pres­i­dent at SNCF, said: “We took part in this drive in 2015 when it started at Til­path Val­ley and the 1.2 lakh saplings planted there have al­ready turned into trees. They are giv­ing back to us and it’s for us to take care of them,” Ch­habra said.

She was as­sisted in plant­ing the saplings by San­jay Yadav, DIG, PDG CRPF, whose camp is lo­cated ad­ja­cent to the bio­di­ver­sity park. “Hu­man greed is now threat­en­ing hu­man ex­is­tence. We now need a mass move­ment to fix things and a drive like this can bring ev­ery­one to­gether and make Delhi greener,” Yadav said.

Pro­fes­sor C R Babu, head of Cen­tre for En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment of De­graded Ecosys­tems — the body pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance dur­ing the drive and manag­ing the bio­di­ver­sity parks un­der DDA — said the aim was to cre­ate forests that con­sisted of dif­fer­ent trophic lev­els and canopies to nat­u­rally fil­ter air. “Once th­ese saplings grow, they will play a ma­jor role in mit­i­gat­ing air pol­lu­tion in Delhi. En­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems are too com­plex to solve im­me­di­ately and we will need to keep plant­ing trees and tak­ing care of them to bring about change,” said Babu.

The Hero TOI Green Drive will move on to Aravalli Bio­di­ver­sity Park on Oc­to­ber 3 with 20,000 saplings to be planted there. A to­tal of five bio­di­ver­sity parks un­der DDA will be cov­ered this year in Delhi.

Ishant Chauhan, San­jay Sekhri

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