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MCD plantation to be mix of flowering, fruit-bearing trees in Delhi | Latest News Delhi

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), as aprt of its annual plantation drive, is set to include flowering trees and those that bear fruits, with an aim to improve the biodiversity of the Capital, senior municipal officials aware of the plan have said.

Some of the flowering trees suggested for plantation drives include amaltas, gulmohar, champa, and bauhinia, while fruit-bearing trees include ber, jamun, amla, and mango. (Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)

MCD, which oversees 15,226 neighbourhood parks and over 12,700km of roads across Delhi, said that it will plant around 619,000 plants this year — an 18% increase from the 525,000 plants planted last year.

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Plantation drives in Delhi are an annual exercise during which large-scale greening takes place, especially during the monsoon. The forest department is the nodal agency for these annual drives. Some of the agencies that carry out these drives include MCD, the New Delhi Municipal Council, the Delhi Development Authority, Public Works Department, power discoms, and the education department.

Officials, quoting fresh directions issued by the Delhi forest department over the last one year, said that this year’s plantation drive has been planned with 25% of all plantations to be of flowering trees, and 15% to be of trees that bear fruits — with a special emphasis on native species to sustain the local ecosystems.

Some of the flowering trees suggested for plantation drives include amaltas, gulmohar, champa, and bauhinia, while fruit-bearing trees include ber, jamun, amla, and mango.

A senior forest department official said the idea is to ensure invasive species do not increase in Delhi, with greening agencies to only plant native species. “There are several indigenous species in Delhi that can be planted along roads and in parks. All greening agencies, including MCD, have been asked to focus on planting these,” said the official.

An MCD official said that four non-native plants have been banned under the annual drive — vilayati kikar, subabul, lantana and eucalyptus.

“These four plants are not conducive to the ecosystem. For example, the eucalyptus draws a lot of ground water and traditionally it was used to dry up low-lying areas with water stagnation,” the official said.

“There is already a programme being undertaken to replace the vilayati kikar from the Ridges,” the official added.

A senior official from MCD’s horticulture department said that flowering and ornamental plants have always formed a key component in annual plantation drives, but fruit-bearing trees are usually discouraged in public spaces. “Usually, we tend to plant fruit-bearing trees at a minimum as they usually lead to maintenance-related issues, with several complaints regarding monkeys or of trees being damaged. However, this year, based on the revised guidelines from the forest department, we have redesigned the drive with more fruit-bearing trees,” the official said, on condition of anonymity.

MCD has also been asked the forest department to promote the plantation of bamboo in the city. A third official said that the corporation is planning to set up a number of structures with the name “Bamboo Paradise” — circular, enclosed space with sitting zones and play areas. “The walls and structure of the space will be made of bamboo plants,” the official said.

To be sure, lieutenant governor VK Saxena has long been a proponent of the plantation of bamboo, and was pivotal in the setting up of Baansera — the city’s first multi-purpose bamboo-themed park, along the banks of the Yamuna.

Environmentalist Pradip Krishen said if the agencies carry out these drives at one of the Ridges, their sole focus ought to be to plant trees that will survive on their own. “Sustainability is key, and catchwords like ‘flowering trees’ and ‘fruit-bearing trees’ are meaningless if the trees are not adapted to subsist in the thin soil and dry, rocky conditions on the Ridge,” he said.

Padmavati Dwivedi, an environmentalist and tree expert said that the simple yardstick should be to just plant natives that also flower beautifully and produce fruits.

“We have dearth of public space and we cannot afford to grow non-local species in public spaces. Bamboo does not grow in this region and exotics have to be completely ruled out,” she said.

Faiyaz Khudsar, scientist in-charge of DDA’s biodiversity parks programme in Delhi, said that before carrying out the plantation drives, we should look at the ecological history of the area to help create a functional ecosystem.

“Within this functional ecosystem, we can focus on native fruit-bearing and flowering trees. For instance, we have vajradanti plants with beautiful flowers in Aravalis. There is adhatoda plant with beautiful white flowers and there are so many native options available in shurbs,” he said.

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