Delhi govt gives nod to transplant 400 trees for new Parliament

The Delhi government has approved the transplantation of 400 trees for the building of the new Parliament. The process is underway and uprooting of trees has already started, said officials of the Delhi government’s environment and forest department.

Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai’s office on Tuesday confirmed that permission for the project has been granted. “The permission has been given after due inspection of the area and in line with the state government’s transplantation policy. We understand that development work is important while ensuring the survival of maximum number of trees,” said the minister’s office in response to HT’s queries.

As per the Delhi government’s transplantation policy, 80% of the transplanted trees must survive after a year. Besides, compensatory plantation has to be carried out by the agency undertaking the work.

A senior official of the environment and forest department said permission has been given to the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) to transplant a total of 400 trees for the new Parliament project. “The trees have already started being transplanted. Some of the trees are around 40 to 50 years old. The CPWD will have to carry out compensatory plantation for the same. Around 4,000 saplings will have to be planted to compensate for the uprooted trees,” said the official, who did not wish to be named.

An inspection will be carried out by the department after the transplantation work is over, the official added.

Meanwhile, officials of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), under whose jurisdiction the area falls, said some of the trees that will be uprooted for the project such as the ones on Raisina Road and Red Cross Road are around 100 years old.

“There are around 20 jamun trees (a native species) on Raisina Road while 20-25 neem trees are there on Red Cross Road that are very old. It is difficult for old trees to survive, as they mostly have dead cells and are not able to regenerate on being translocated,” said a second senior official, who did not wish to be named.

Experts say while transplantation could be a good solution for younger trees, it may not work in case of older trees and native species such as jamun, which are fragile.

“An attempt to transplant trees may set a good precedent and is better than just felling them. However, in case of fragile species such as jamun, which are quite big and old like the ones in Lutyens’ Delhi are, may not be successful, as these species are not resilient enough to survive the shock of uprooting and human handling. In this exercise, there may be a loss of some old and big trees while the younger ones may survive,” said Vijay Dhasmana, curator, Aravalli Biodiversity Park, Gurugram.

CR Babu, professor emeritus at the Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystem, Delhi University, said only young and shallow-rooted species are known to survive transplantation. Trees aged around 10-15 years can survive transplantation and regrow well. However, with older trees and those with a deep-tap root systems such as jamun, transplantation would be a failure.

“A younger jamun, if its roots are taken out intact, may survive. But in case of species as old as 50-100 years, the roots have penetrated too deep and they cannot be taken out without being damaged during transplantation. Hence, these trees, even if they survive, will not flourish or perform any ecological functions, which is equal to being dead,” he said.

He added that some ficus species such as peepal, bargad and gular can also survive translocation.

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