The Delhi government has earmarked Rs 50 lakh for the financial year 2017-18 for getting rid of ‘vilayati kikar’ from the Ridge and replacing the invasive tree species with indigenous trees such as Amaltas. The Ridge, also known as the lung of the city for being the biggest green zone, is full of ‘vilayati kikar’, a species of acacia. The tree is not native to Delhi and has infested the Ridge, wiping out the indigenous species and dealing a blow to biodiversity in the area.
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Experts have been talking about a plan to replace these trees with Delhi’s native trees for several years now. The government’s decision to allocate a dedicated amount for the purpose indicated that the programme, which has to be long-term, might take off soon.
“Britishers planted ‘vilayati kikar’ in Delhi in 1912-13. It causes shortage of groundwater in Delhi,” said Deputy CM Manish Sisodia. Appreciating the plan, experts said the government first needs to look at demarcating the forest area, and added that the allotment of Rs 50 lakh was too low. “While the plan is good, the government needs to take tougher decisions. The plan to demarcate boundaries of the Ridge has not moved at all and it is desperately needed.
The forest has been encroached upon to a great degree and there is an urgent need to protect it,” said Ravi Agarwal, former member of the Ridge Management Board.