In mega drive on August 9, Delhi govt to plant 3 lakh saplings in a day
The Delhi government will conduct its mega plantation drive for this year on August 9 and has aimed to plant over 300,000 tree saplings and shrubs across the national capital.
Last year, 500,000 saplings were planted in a day. Scarcity of land has forced the forest department to reduce the overall plantation target of this year to 2.4 million from last year’s 3.2 million.
Isapur village near southwest Delhi’s Najafgarh has been identified as the main site for the mass drive to be launched by environment minister Kailash Gahlot, said officials in the forest department.
“While plantation is already underway, the mass plantation drive will be conducted this season on August 9 in which over two lakh tree saplings and around one lakh shrubs will be planted by all the greening agencies in the city,” said Ishwar Singh, principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) and head of forest department, adding, “A patch of around 1,000 hectares in Isapur village will be the mega site where around 5,000 saplings will be planted.”
A large variety of native tree species, including fruit and flower bearing saplings will be planted during the drive. Jamun, ber, guava, peepal, neem, pilkhan, jungle jalebi, bargad, amaltas, gulmohar and arjun, among others, will be included, he said.
Of the total 2.4 million target for this year, around 450,000 saplings will be planted by the forest department while the rest will be taken up by other greening agencies in the city including the three municipal corporations, New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), public works department (PWD) and Delhi Development Authority (DDA), among others.
Besides, this year, of the overall target, 350,000 saplings will be up for free distribution. People can get these saplings during the drive as well as from government-run nurseries.
“This season the focus will be on planting a judicious mix of evergreen deciduous (broad leaved) and flowered trees, which have a high capacity of abating pollution. Broad-leaved trees are great dust trappers. Besides, these are good at trapping suspended particulate matter and harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, which is one of the major pollutants found in Delhi air,” said Singh.
Also, fruit-bearing trees besides trapping carbon dioxide will provide a food base for the local fauna such as varieties of deer, neelgai and a host of birds that are found in city forest areas, he said.
The overall target has been reduced this year because of the shortage of barren land. “Plantation is to taken up at vegetation deficient areas, as waste lands or clear barren patches are not available in the city. The department has identified patches which are deficient in vegetation as well as casualty areas such as forest fires where trees need to be replanted,” said a senior forest officer.
Vacancy filling of tree species, which is planting new trees where previous ones once stood, is taken up during the drive in all such patches in order to increase the green cover. From next year, the department plans to go for a qualitative approach than increasing the quantity of trees planted, the officer said.
Last year chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had launched one of the largest plantation drives across the capital in September 2018 during which at least 500,000 saplings were planted in a day. The CM had said increasing green cover was the best way to fight the growing air pollution in the capital. The Economic Survey of Delhi 2018 had stated the city’s green cover at 20.6%.
Also, this year the department plans to use jute bags instead of plastic bags for saplings. According to experts, broad-leaved trees could be a good plantation strategy for Delhi provided it is done in multi-layer vegetation.
C R Babu, professor emeritus at the Centre for Environment Management of Degraded Ecosystems at Delhi University, said, “Broad-leaved trees species such as palash, ber, jhilmil and even peepal, among others, are more effective as a filter for air pollution in comparison to other species. But it is only effective when there is multi-layer vegetation. These species also provide habitat to wildlife and act as a sponge for groundwater recharge.”