Amrut Biodiversity Park on banks of Yamuna to trace freedom struggle

Updated on May 10, 2022 02:17 AM IST

There will be five dedicated tracks on 90 hectares of land on the eastern bank that will depict an important historical event each. The landowning agency and CSIR-NBRI have decided on five historical events

One of the waterbodies at the Amrut biodiversity park which is being developed by the DDA. (Sourced)
One of the waterbodies at the Amrut biodiversity park which is being developed by the DDA. (Sourced)
ByRisha Chitlangia

As India celebrates 75 years of Independence, Delhiites will get a glimpse of the freedom struggle from the 1857 mutiny to the Dandi March through plant sculptures at a biodiversity park being developed by the Delhi Development Authority on the Yamuna riverbank near the Commonwealth Games village.

The Lucknow-based National Botanical Research Institute (CSIR-NBRI) will develop the landscape by restoring local ecology. It will also maintain the Amrut Biodiversity Park spread over 108 hectares on either side of the river.

“We have signed a memorandum of understanding with CSIR-NBRI to take up the greening activity at the Amrut Biodiversity Park,” said Rajeev Kumar Tiwari, principal commissioner, DDA. “The plan is to highlight important events in India’s freedom struggle as we complete 75 years of Independence.”

There will be five dedicated tracks on 90 hectares of land on the eastern bank that will depict an important historical event each. The landowning agency and CSIR-NBRI have decided on five historical events — 1857 Mutiny, Santhal Rebellion, Champaran Satyagraha, Dandi March and the struggle by Azad Hind Fauj led by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. These will be represented through plant sculptures and appropriate vegetation.

“Amrut Biodiversity Park will have a few tracks depicting some important events related to India’s freedom struggle,” said Saroj K Barik, director of CSIR-NBRI. “The detailed plans are being worked out.”

The agreement with CSIR-NIBRI was signed in April, Tiwari said, adding that 75 varieties of species will be planted on the floodplain.The institute will take two years to complete the work. “The institute will maintain the biodiversity park for five years after the work is complete (till 2029),” said Tiwari.

Four tier forest

The biodiversity park will be spread on either side of the Yanuma river. While 90 hectares is located on the eastern side, 18 hectares is located on the western bank, close to the New India Garden, which is being developed by the Central Public Works Department as part of the Central Vista redevelopment project.

The plan is to develop a “four-tier forest with varieties of grasses, herbs, shrubs and trees”, Tiwari said.

All plantation activities at the park will be undertaken as per the National Green Tribunal’s guidelines, Barik said. “Only those plants which are part of the vegetation of the Yamuna catchment will be used,” he said

“We will also be restoring the Yamuna floodplain ecosystems following appropriate ecological principles,” Barik said. “The other objective of our work will be to develop the park in such a way that people get a glimpse of the rich biodiversity of our country. The park will also provide its recreation ecosystem service to the general public.”

While CSIR-NBRI is finalising details of the work, DDA is developing unpaved walkways and cycle tracks spread over 11km, nature walks along the river, public toilets, etc., which will be completed by the end of June.

The biodiversity park will also have a butterfly garden, scared groves and a nursery.

On the eastern bank, a system of wetlands along the unpaved pathways and cycle tracks interspersed with floodplain forests and grasslands is being developed to restore the ecology of the Yamuna floodplains, a DDA official said.

“These wetlands will act as natural sponges for the floodplains and help in augmenting the water holding capacity of the area,” he said on condition of anonymity. “The aim is to intercept the receding water so that water is retained for a longer duration of time.”

The portion of the park on the western bank is close to the river’s edge and within 300 metres of the green buffer area. “A variety of native trees and riverine grasses to facilitate the ecology of the river will be planted with nature trails to connect with the river,” the DDA official said.

Green activists cry foul

Environment activists, however, said that the Yamuna floodplain is not meant for “ornamental landscape work”.

“The ornamental landscape work is easy to make, but difficult to maintain. But the big question is: why do we need this on the Yamuna floodplains? The floodplains require the natural biodiversity of Yamuna,” said Manoj Misra, convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan. “After the Yamuna monitoring committee was disbanded, there is no independent mechanism in place to check development activities on the floodplain.”

“There is enough space available in the rest of the city where these plant sculptures can be developed,” said Diwan Singh, an environmental activist. “The DDA should focus on restoring the ecology of the floodplain rather than such development.”

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