After a little bit of improvement, the National Capital continued to experience 'very poor' air quality on Tuesday morning, the city with experienced air quality index (AQI) of 323, as per the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR-India).
Green Cover Of Delhi; It was a sort of Mayhem on the roads of national Capital Delhi on the last Monday of May when incessant rains with high gusty winds led to the uprooting of hundreds of trees with broken branches spread all over the roads.
The office goers could witness the destruction of trees resulting from the storm during the previous night. There were uprooted trees and broken branches strewn all over the roads. Rows of cars parked alongside the roads were buried under the debris of broken trunks. Although not much loss of human lives was reported, however,due to a natural cause is a matter of grave concern. the destruction of green cover that too in such a large number on a single day
Although these strong gusty winds and incessant rains are a common phenomenon during April-May summer Months in the North part of India and every storm of such nature brings loss of tree cover but an uprooting hundreds of trees in a single day needs thorough reasoning.
Central Delhi which makes up a major part of Lytuans Delhi is marked by rows and rows of old, trees with thick trunks that witnessed the biggest brunt. Several full-grown trees were uprooted or had broken trunks blocking the roads and damaging the cars and properties.
Winds with speed as high as 90-100 km/hr are common during pre-monsoon times in North India bringing destruction to green cover but the way Delhi is losing such a precious green cover every year the question arises is it solely due to the natural cause or other factors too are contributing to this loss of green cover.
Are the concerned authorities re-planting the uprooted trees or doing fresh plantation to ensure that the loss of a tree even if due to a natural cause is covered up. Can we do something to bring a balance between development and the environment?
Why are we losing green cover in Delhi?
Rows of trees that we see in Delhi especially the New Delhi and Central Delhi area belong to the indigenous varieties which are suited for the geography and soil of Delhi and have a long life. It is therefore surprising that fully grown trees that have not even reached their maturity as per their age graphs are falling and being uprooted.
Other than the development reasons, what could be the other reasons that we are fast losing our precious green canopy of the national capital? “Life of such trees is not short. Such varieties last for centuries. One big reason is that we are damaging the roots of these strong trees. There are two ways why such trees get damaged. Either these get uprooted or their branches or the trunks get broken. Broken trunks are due to high wind speed but those which have been uprooted are because either the trunk was hollow due to termites or their roots were badly damaged. The major reason for trees getting uprooted is because there is not much soil base around these trees supporting the trunk and the roots. We have been witnessing many cases where various agencies like PWD, BSES, and JAL Board dig the roads and damage the roots. Because of that trees lose balance and get uprooted. During the current storm it was noticed that trunk of big and old trees was hollow from inside while those which got uprooted had damaged roots”, explained Verheen Khanna, President, New Delhi Nature Society.
How to protect Trees in Cities
According to an order of the Supreme Court one meter area around the tree trunk should not be cemented, “but unfortunately that is not the case” resulting in the rapid loss of green cover in the cities especially metros like Delhi.
Although there is a provision for re-planting the uprooted trees again there is a protocol for this, says a retired PWD official Sarfaraz Ahmad, “we replant only those trees where the roots are still intact with the ground. The trees which have been absolutely uprooted cannot recover as the roots get damaged beyond recovery. “
So, do we plant new trees in the place emptied by the uprooted trees? According to Anurag Sharma, tree inspector of South Division, Delhi, as of now there is no provision for planting any new tree in the area which has been emptied due to the uprooting of the tree, especially due to natural causes. “We have a policy of planting 10 trees to replace one tree where the trees are cut for the development reasons. The forest department coordinates with all the agencies like the railways, Metro, etc for plantation drive if there is a destruction of tree cover due to the reasons of development”, he points out.
This means that whatever green cover the Delhi or any other metro is losing due to natural causes like storms and high-speed winds can not be replaced as a policy matter and we might eventually see the loss of green canopy over the cities? Does this also mean that we are fighting a lost battle for the green covers of cities in the wake of urbanisation?
Why do we need a green canopy of trees?
A Green and thick canopy is not only important for the overall health of the environment but is also important for the general health, growth, and longevity of the tree. The expansion of roots is equally proportionate to the width of the overhead canopy. The rainwater which falls on the canopy trickles down slowly long after the rain is stopped and gradually seeps down the soils giving ample water to the roots for storage.
Due to concretisation of the area around the trees water retention required for the thick canopied trees is minimised leading to weak and damaged roots.
History of Vast Green Cover of Delhi
Delhi is known for its massive green cover planted with great research and thorough planning to suit the geography and climate of the capital region. Rows and rows of these trees have given cover to the circular designs of the national capital Delhi and have given a significant character to the city for its shady greens of big trees.
These trees were mainly planted during the construction of New Delhi after the independence with meticulous planning of the Lytuans zone. The variety of the trees was not hand-picked randomly but rather was well researched for their suitability for the weather, soil, geography, and climate of Delhi. That is the reason we witness rows of either Neem, Jamun, Ashok, Pilkhan, etc all the indigenous north Indian varieties.
It is important to save these trees, not only for the environmental cause but also because these are part of our rich heritage and symbol of Independent India.