Delhi: Year on, project to remove vilayati kikar makes no headwayhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/year-on-project-to-remove-vilayati-kikar-makes-no-headway-5655542/

Delhi: Year on, project to remove vilayati kikar makes no headway

The government had engaged the Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems head C R Babu, a noted ecologist, for the task.

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While Delhi government officials agreed that the proposal was not placed before the Cabinet, they did not disclose any reasons for the delay.

A 100-acre patch between SP Marg and Vandemataram Marg near Karol Bagh should have, by now, seen tiny shoots signalling a significant change.

Last year, the Delhi government had engaged experts to rid the Ridge of the invasive, non-native vilayati kikar trees. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, in the 2018 budget speech, announced that the government had set aside Rs 50 crore for the project. Except, the proposal was never presented to the Delhi Cabinet, whose consent is mandatory for all new projects.

This year’s budget, too, was silent on the issue.

The government had also set aside an allocation of Rs 12.21 crore from the Ridge Management Board fund. The first phase was to start in July last year and be completed by March this year. This patch of the Ridge would have borne a bleak look with the existing canopy chopped, with a few new shoots competing with what remained of the invasive species.

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While Delhi government officials agreed that the proposal was not placed before the Cabinet, they did not disclose any reasons for the delay.

Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain did not respond to calls or messages from The Indian Express.

The government had engaged the Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems head C R Babu, a noted ecologist, for the task.

According to Babu, while all other permissions were in place, the project got stuck at the stage of getting Cabinet approval.

“We were ready with our project plan. It was approved by most departments of the government but to my knowledge, it was never placed in the Cabinet for approval. I do not know the reasons for this,” he said.

His team’s plan included planting a community of 30 different native plant species and opening a section of the “revived” Ridge to people and also creating ecologically designed recreational centres.

Babu and his team have previously carried out a successful project at the Aravalli Biodiversity Park, which is a part of the southern Ridge.