Monsoon is the best time of the year to plant trees. Each year the civic bodies in south Delhi launch a large-scale plantation drive at this time. This year too, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) will jointly plant saplings in parks, gardens and ridge areas across the southern part of the city. While the DDA plans to plant at least five lakh saplings, the SDMC will plant more than one lakh. Learning from their past mistakes, the administration will strictly follow scientific methods during the plantation drives. This time, more native varieties will be planted and the authorities are planning to ensure their maintenance. They have roped in Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) and elected members to make the drive a success. Social media will also play a part in the drive as councillors will inform and invite people to plant saplings and adopt them. Meanwhile, environmentalists are sceptical about the drive as they claim that agencies carry out such drives every year but the survival rate of the saplings is minimal. They say that until a scientific method and a plan for their maintenance is not chalked out, the whole exercise will prove to be futile and a wastage of resources.
The SDMC’s efforts
This year SDMC has strengthened its plantation drive with the onset of monsoon. It is engaging various stakeholders to make the campaign a success. Unlike previous years, the civic agency is taking all precautionary measures to ensure the plants survive. It has also accelerated the pace of greening in the parks.
Besides planting mature trees (5ft tall) under the ‘Green Action Plan’, SDMC is emphasising on proper care and water supply. “Till last year, SDMC planted saplings that were 2ft in height, but some of them could not survive due to heavy rain and extreme winter conditions. This year, the civic agency is stressing on planting mature trees. We will continue the drive till October,” said Alok Singh, director, horticulture, SDMC.
Before initiating the drive, the SDMC is identifying appropriate sites to plant different kinds of trees. “The flowering and seasonal plants won’t survive for long if they don’t get regular water supply. That’s why we are planting them only in parks. Similarly, saplings of big trees will be planted on roadsides, vacant sites and along the drains,” said Singh.
Apart from horticulture departments, area councillors and residents will also contribute to the drive in various ways. Andrews Ganj councillor Abhishek Dutt has launched ‘Pick, Pledge & Plant’ drive wherein interested residents can pick one plant (from the varieties available with SDMC’s horticulture department) and plant them at identified locations. “But they need to take a pledge that will take care of it. The initiative has been taken after learning from previous mistakes when the trees were planted haphazardly in large numbers and a majority of them could not survive in the absence of proper maintenance. In fact, we will not plant more than six saplings in each park,” said Dutt.
To promote the concept, Dutt is also using social networking sites and inviting the residents to send in their details -name, address and phone numbers. “We will assist them in planting the trees at the nearest SDMC parks. We have also shared with them the list of plants available,” he said. These include bamboo, bistandu, sonjna, murrya exotica, jetropha, haemelia, lawsonia alba, kachnar, calliandra and maulsari.
Shailendra Singh, standing committee chairman and councillor from Safdarjung, has selected the parks designated for marriage or public events for the plantation. “People have a misconception that the parks earmarked for events are left barren. But I have taken up the initiative to beautify them,” he said. Singh has selected three sites including Kamal Cinema Park and NCC Park in Safdarjung Enclave and Central Park in Humayunpur village. At these parks more than 200 saplings have been planted along the walking tracks. Besides, the horticulture department has planted flower saplings in primary schools and mature trees near Safdarjung nullah.
After understanding the requirement of saplings in their parks, the RWA of East of Kailash’s block E decided to pursue the horticulture department for the plantation drive. “Though we have six parks here, we selected only four parks for plantation purpose this season because we don’t want them to look cluttered by planting too many saplings. We have planted Ashoka trees along the walking tracks and shrubs are used at other places,” said KK Mittal, an RWA member.
SDMC is also providing tree guards for the protection of the plants. “Residents can call the central helpline and they will be provided a plant protection grill. The grill will have their name as a thank you gesture for their involvement,” said South Delhi mayor Shyam Sharma.
DDA’s target this season is to plant at least five lakh saplings. The civic body will plant around 35,000 saplings in south Delhi. The trees will be planted by August 15, said a senior official of the horticulture department of DDA. Last year as well the agency planted 35,000 saplings. DDA claims that the ratio of saplings growing into healthy plants is 60%.
DDA will plant Amaltas, Molshree, Neem, Tilkhand, Ashoka, Silver Oak, Papri, Kadam, Peepal and Gulmohar. A total of 5,000 trees will be planted in Sanjay Van, 2,000 in Mehrauli, 300 in Aastha Kunj park, 5,000 in Lado Sarai and 1,000 in Jahnapanah city forest. Another 1,000 will be planted in Ghitorni forest and a total of 200 trees and 2,000 shrubs will be planted at the District Park in Hauz Khas. A record 5,000 saplings will be planted in Lado Sarai Phase III behind TB Hospital.DDD in its mango orchard at Andheria Mor 3, 500 saplings.
“This time our focus is on planting trees found in Aravalli region as the chances of their survival is higher. In city forests like Sanjay Van there are small water bodies, at other places tankers will be used to water the plants,” the official said.
Since Delhi is receiving good rainfall this year, the civic agency is hopeful that most of the saplings will grow into healthy plants. DDA also plans to rope in locals in the plantation drive. “We will invite RWAs. Since residents use these parks and forests for their walks and recreation, we want them to become stakeholders in the endeavour and take care of the plants. We expect increase in local partnership,” he said. DDA recently planted 110 Amaltas trees in Hauz Khas’s Rose Park. The event was attented by MLA Somnath Bharti.