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Heritage trees under threat

The forest department has booked a senior engineer of Delhi Transco, the state-owned power transmission utility, for causing irreparable damages to century-old trees in Lutyens' Delhi while laying underground cables recently. Avishek G Dastidar reports.

delhi Updated: Mar 05, 2011 00:29 IST
Avishek G Dastidar

The forest department has booked a senior engineer of Delhi Transco, the state-owned power transmission utility, for causing irreparable damages to century-old trees in Lutyens' Delhi while laying underground cables recently.

Delhi Transco was carrying out excavation along KG Marg and nearby areas without any permission regarding the trees. In its report, the forest department has said that the work has caused one neem tree to fall, while damaging the roots of a line of trees along the pavement.

"Without much anchorage, these trees are also prone to collapsing," said a senior officer of the forest department on condition of anonymity.

"We have taken necessary action against the engineer concerned for failing to carry out the work responsibly."

The power utility has been laying underground cables to connect its 400 KV grid at Maharani Bagh with a new 220 KV grid near KG Marg.

The avenues of New Delhi are shaded with age-old trees with wide canopies, like neem, jamun, arjun, imli, etc. Trees are an integral part of the layout of the township. The total number of species of these age-old trees is around 30, according to New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) records.

"It is shocking that in this day and age, power cables are laid to destroy the cities heritage. It is even more shocking that this is happening in an NDMC area, one of the richest municipalities in the world. Power cables can be laid by adopting methods which do not destroy such trees," said environmentalist Ravi Agarwal, who is also the convenor of a forum of NGOs and citizens called "Trees for Delhi". "The remaining trees are likely to fall in the next high wind, since they are only standing balanced on earth."

Delhi Transco said the digging had happened according to the guidelines set by heritage authorities as well as the NDMC.

"Laying of cables was necessary for operations. We have not damaged any tree. One tree fell due to a mild storm and because its roots did not have enough strength," said Rishi Raj, spokesman, Delhi Transco.