The forest department has prepared an action plan to save the Delhi Ridge that is struggling to survive the onslaught of concrete, illegal occupation and truckloads of debris.
The action comes after Hindustan Times in a threeday series from August 19 to 21 highlighted the terrible plight of Delhi’s original forest and the city’s lungs.
The plan looks at plantation of indigenous tree species, creation of nurseries, demarcation of forest boundaries, removal of encroachment and garbage dumps and settlement of land disputes -- all through increased budgetary provisions and greater manpower.
Admitting to “negligible field monitoring” in the 7,777-hectare ridge because of lack of vehicles, the department has sought four four-wheelers and six two-wheelers.
The action plan for the current and the next three financial years has been pegged at R3.92 crore. It will be submitted to the Ridge Management Board for approval.
The rocky outcrop of the Aravali ranges, which includes the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary and the Aravali Biodiversity Park, prevents hot winds and sand dunes from Rajasthan.
Conservation of this arid, open scrub forest with ‘kikar’ being the dominant tree species is critical because it provides a buffer against rising pollution levels in Delhi.
“There is a need for a young and passionate forestry consultant to study the soil and weather conditions, select plant species and monitor the restoration work. The department needs a technical expert for electronically mapping forest land and encroachment,” the plan says.
The indigenous species of trees proposed to be planted include shisham, neem, kachnar, imli, pilkhan, gular, amaltas, peepal, ber, sharifa, jamun and harsingar.
Mining of quartize rocks created a large number of pits, which now act as water recharge points. The ridge prevents erosion and siltation and provides aesthetics and recreational opportunities.
“A major part of the ridge was notified in 1994 and 1996 after which no construction should have been allowed. Development has all but destroyed it,” the plan says. The plan mentions “a dusty, unlicensed village” in the ridge.
“The ridge is rapidly shrinking, falling prey to construction activities, land diversion, encroachment and garbage dumping. The ridge must be conserved and kept free of unrestricted and unplanned urban development,” the plan says.