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Green light to restore Delhi Ridge

For the first time,Delhi’s Ridge,which lies on the oldest mountain range in the world,is set to get a booster shot.

Written by Neha Sinha | New Delhi |
July 25, 2009 2:05:28 am

For the first time,Delhi’s Ridge,which lies on the oldest mountain range in the world,is set to get a booster shot.

The Delhi Ridge,on the Aravalli mountain range,is currently what many ecologists call a ‘green desert’ — because the forest tracts over South,Central and Northern Delhi are infested with weeds.

Now the Forest department,in consultation with the Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems (CEMDE),has started work on an action plan to turn the Ridge into an ecological forest — with grassland,dry deciduous and mixed deciduous forest communities and its own water check dams. This was done after the action plan found that large parts of the Ridge are just open scrub land with a low density of trees.

On Saturday and Sunday,the DDA and the Forest department planted 5,000 ecologically-relevant tree species at Kamala Nehru Ridge opposite St Stephen’s College. The varieties included fruit species for the large resident monkey population in the forest — jamun,imli,amla,bel,sheesham and fig-bearing peepal trees.

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Currently,the action plan,created after a survey of parts of the Ridge by the forest department and the CEMDE,notes that large parts of the Ridge is not thick forest,and is weed infested.

Observations on the Central Ridge,opposite Maurya Sheraton,include: “The vegetation is mostly thorny scrub,and 80 per cent of the ground is open,except for scattered clumps of lantana (a weed) and other bushes. Prosopis Juliflora (another weed) is dominant but the density is extremely low,about 10 to 15 trees per hectare.”

“We’re starting work on the action plan this year. Though one plantation drive has already been done,others will be done with more monsoon rain. The focus will be on the central Ridge,” Conservator of Forests D M Shukla told Newsline.

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The restoration of the central Ridge will start with a 400-hectare area located between Vande Mataram Marg in the West,Mother Teresa Crescent Marg in the East,and Dhaula Kuan in the South. The target this year is 100 hectares adjacent to the Simon Bolivar Marg. Interestingly,to provide irrigation to freshly-sown saplings,the Forest department will take recycled wastewater from Maurya Sheraton and the Taj Hotels on S P Marg.

Newsline had earlier reported how Maurya Sheraton,after recycling its sewage water,is left with a surplus of thousands of kilolitres daily. The action plan also includes making rainwater harvesting pits,stormwater drains and check dams where possible.

The original Ridge on the Aravallis was destroyed,probably by the Mughals. Around the 1870s,the British introduced Vilayati Kikar-Prosopis Juliflora —which was a fast-growing tree. But this species does not allow any others to grow,leading to monoculture.

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The Delhi Ridge spans from the Southeast in Tughlaqabad near Bhatti mines,to the north near Wazirabad on the right bank of the Yamuna. It is an extension of the Aravalli range and is divided into four zones: the northern ridge,which is the smallest,lies between Civil Lines and the University Campus in North Delhi. The south central Ridge,626 hectares in area,is the best-conserved patch and houses the Kishangarh forest or Sanjay Van. The heart of the city is built on the central ridge. The ridge houses a wide variety of flora and fauna.

The plan

* Grassland communities — seeds will be sown mixed with cowdung and five different grasses will be used

* Acacia (varieties of babool) communities (dry deciduous)

* Mixed dry deciduous — butea trees

* Mixed deciduous tree communities – mahua,imli,bel,triphala,haldu

* Bamboo groves will be planted as ‘shelter belts’ for the saplings

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First published on: 25-07-2009 at 02:05:28 am

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