Champa (frangipani) and palm trees may, in themselves, make for a beautiful sight. But the selection and planting of these tress, on the central verge of certain roads in city, has drawn flak from experts.
For instance, the Public Works Department (PWD) has planted champa trees (frangipani) and a variety of palm on the central verge below Metro pillars on Vikas Marg in east Delhi.
The frangipani trees are planted a mere 10 feet away from each other. Moreover, the tree might not survive at all on the central verge, where people jump across to cross the road. “The trouble with frangipani is that its branches are very weak,” reasons Pradip Krishen, author of Trees of Delhi.
He also criticises the distance between two trees. “A lot of things need to be taken care of the height upto which the tree will grow, what will be the direction of the sun, how big would the canopy be, before planting.”
However, a senior PWD official says, “Champa trees generally grow to a height of 12-13 feet, with a 10 12 feet wide canopy. Even if the canopies just touch one another or overlap, it is okay.”
Moreover, the type of frangipani that has been planted is not native to India. It is a foreign species (plumeria), which retains its green cover for most of the year, unlike the native champa, which sheds every single leaf in winter.
Says C R Babu of the Centre for Management of Degraded Ecosystems, “Trees on the central verge need to be bushy, as these help cut off the light of the vehicles travelling in the opposite direction. Palms will not help in cutting down on light and hence, are not desirable.”
Ajay Mahajan of Kalpavriksha joins the chorus, “Why can't they learn from their own experience? We have the case of the Bheeshma Pitamaha Marg, where too, they tried unsuccessful plantation of palms. Why go for such species, which do not survive here?” Krishen says only two varieties of palms are native to Delhi and adds, “Palm trees survive here only if one can take intensive care of them.”
Clarified an MCD official, “Who says palms do not survive in Delhi? But we have removed palm trees on Nishad Marg as these were not surviving on the central verge. The soil below the central verge is just one to one and a half feet deep, so the leaves were drying.”