Rain fury: At least 500 trees uprooted in Delhi

Updated on May 31, 2022 04:41 AM IST

Among those affected in central Delhi was BJP MP Parvesh Verma, in whose Janpath Road residence a tree crushed his car and another fell on a part of his house.

East and central parts of Delhi bore the maximum brunt of the storm that peppered the roads with broken tree branches. (Photo by Ajay Aggarwal/ Hindustan Times)
East and central parts of Delhi bore the maximum brunt of the storm that peppered the roads with broken tree branches. (Photo by Ajay Aggarwal/ Hindustan Times)
By, New Delhi

Over 500 trees were uprooted across the Capital as intense rain and winds with speeds touching 100km/hr lashed Delhi on Monday evening.

Between 4.30pm and 9pm on Monday, different government agencies -- Delhi Police, NDMC, MCD -- received around 530 calls regarding uprooted trees which had either fallen, blocked roads, or damaged property, including cars and houses. A majority of tree falls was witnessed in central Delhi, with the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) alone reporting around 150 calls till 9pm.

A Delhi traffic police official said that traffic police disaster management teams and civic agencies were all pressed into action to clear fallen trees as swiftly as possible. “In most cases, the tree starts losing its strength due to concretisation around it. This weakens the roots and also reduces the amount of water permeating through, making the tree prone to falling down during a storm. Some trees may weaken due to diseases and termites as well, which then require the use of chemicals,” said the official.

Among those affected in central Delhi was BJP MP Parvesh Verma, in whose Janpath Road residence a tree crushed his car and another fell on a part of his house.

A fallen tree blocked a part of the Ferozshah Road, while another at Rajiv Chowk also led to traffic diversions from the inner circle. A tree also fell outside the gate of Connaught Place police station, damaging a car owned by a sub-inspector rank officer.

An NDMC official said they began receiving calls regarding tree falls from around 5pm. “Steady action was taken to clear the roads and to provide support to the trees wherever possible,” said an NDMC official.

Met officials said the intensity of the storm was strongest in central and parts of east Delhi, which also reflected in the incidents of tree falls reported by the agencies.

The unified municipal corporation of Delhi (MCD) received 86 calls regarding fallen trees, of which 30 were reported from the cental zone, including from areas in Lajpat Nagar, Defence Colony, New Friends Colony, Daryaganj, Meherchand market, South Extension-2, Jangpura and the Sunder Nagar area.

The City-SP zone of the MCD, which includes the Old Delhi area, reported 17 instances of fallen trees, including five from Daryaganj and three from Civil Lines. Six tree falls were reported in the Rohini zone and in south zone, only one such call was reported from Panchsheel Park.

A collapsed tree blocked the road near Himachal Bhawan in Mandi House while another tree fell on parked cars opposite the Red Fort. A fallen banyan tree also blocked a gate of New Friends Colony as well.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police received a total of 294 tree-related calls till 8pm.

Delhi’s new lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena also inspected parts of Delhi to assess the damage. “Distressed by the sight of uprooted trees, fallen branches and waterlogging at places after the early evening storm. Visited few places. Instructed officials to take immediate steps to remove debris and clear the roads immediately so as to mitigate the inconvenience to people (sic),” he tweeted.

Experts attributed the high instances of tree falls to concretisation of the area around trees, in violation of a Delhi high court order and later a National Green Tribunal (NGT) mandate requiring a one metre radius of no concrete around trees.

Padmavati Dwivedi, a tree activist , said while it is natural that some trees fall due to strong winds, the high figure can be reduced considerably if agencies did not concretise the areas around trees, or damaged their roots by digging too close to them. “All civic agencies are well aware of this as enough has been written about it. Yet they seem to be failing in the implementation of these existing orders each year,” she said.

Vijay Dhasmana, an ecologist and curator of the Aravalli Biodiversity Park in Gurugram, said concretisation and incorrect pruning practices play a great role in trees lopping to one side, or their roots becoming substantially weak over time. “Some species, such as subabul, are not as weather resistant as others, but it has generally been seen that roadside trees or those that are in concretised spaces, tend to fall more easily. The roots become weak over time and if pruning is done incorrectly, then there could be a naturally tilt too,” he said.

Verhaen Khanna, who runs the New Delhi Nature Society (NDNS), said fallen trees can be re-erected if timely action is ensured. “It just needs support on one end, good earth, manure and plenty of watering,” he said.

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