The project of converting portions of Jaunapur and Aya Nagar into a new forest area has been put on fast track. The land for the project was identified in 2010. The forest department had started planting trees there but nothing moved thereafter. The department is now actively working towards finalising the layout plan to develop the city forest. The total area acquired by the forest department of the Delhi government is 37.14 hectares.
Out of this, 25 hectares fall under Aya Nagar while rest of 12.14 hectares fall under Jaunapur village. As per the forest officials, this used to be a barren land and was owned by the gram sabha of two villages. But about six years back, these were taken over by the forest department and plantation drive began here. Different varieties of trees were grown and that included seesam, neem, amaltas, Pithecellobium dulce (jungle jalabee) etc.
“Last month, I had visited the site along with my team to find out its existing condition. I found that the trees which were planted 5-6 years back are fully grown now and their average height has reached six metre. After visiting the place we took the decision to start the work for developing city forest here,” said SK Muan Guite, deputy conservator of forest, southern division.
During their visit, forest officials also met the villagers. They sought their suggestions. The villagers were quite enthusiastic about the development of this place and came up with many ideas.
As per the plan, the department is likely to raise a boundary wall around this site. The department aims to construct 2.5 kilometre-long jogging track that will run along the water body here. It also plans to revive water bodies, develop grassland around the ravines, planting medicinal and ornamental plants and install benches and lighting system.
“As per the layout, a portion of jogging track will be made of sand soil and other of concrete tiles. To make the place look aesthetic we have also planned to plant ornamental saplings on the sides of jogging tracks,” said a forest official.
Similarly, for reviving the water body and ravines, department has planned to use the treated drain water from neighbouring villages. “But above all, we will ensure that the forest doesn’t lose its originality,” said Guite. The forest officials are expecting that the rich flora and fauna will attract birds and other animals to this place.
Besides all this, the department also plans to develop other necessary facilities here like provision for washrooms, drinking water and proper security system to guard the place. “But considering the department has limited workforce, after developing these facilities, their maintenance will be outsourced to a private company. It will also be responsible for doing horticulture jobs like pruning of trees after receiving permission from the department,” said a senior official.
The department is hopeful that in next one and half years the place will be made open for public. “We will soon complete the layout plan and send it for approval to the headquarters. As per their suggestion we will incorporate changes and then prepare estimate with the help of technical team,” said the official.
Residents living in neighbouring areas have been demanding such facility for years. According to them, unlike other colonies in south Delhi, the villagers are bereft of basic facilities like parks and recreational centres, till now. “In ours as well as surrounding villages like Mandi, Gadaipur, Sultanpur, Ghitorni and Chandahola there is no provision for a single park. Moreover, our land was also taken by the government under ridge area, years back. We have been running after the government officials for years to develop the facility here. Finally, we have seen some ray of hope,” said Anuj Ishwal, a resident of Aya Nagar.
According to Ved Pal, RWA president from Aya Nagar, “After sending our presentation to former chief minister Sheila Dikshit, the department came into action and started plantation drive in the forest land. Even Delhi Metro Rail Corporation carried out the plantation drive in the past. But the project for developing the city forest has started now. Once developed, lakhs of people living in neighbouring villages and basti can use the city forest for recreational purposes.”