While the entire attention has been on the trees earmarked to be chopped down to facilitate redevelopment of colonies, no one has paid much attention to trees falling during the gales the capital has recently seen.
A small group of NGOS, RWAs and green activists are, however, making it their mission to “rescue” such trees and replant them — a task blighted by low survival rates.
On Monday, NGO Greencircle of Delhi and the New Delhi Municipal Council used ropes and a JCB truck to replant a rohida tree (Tecomella undulata) uprooted by a storm in Lodhi Garden. The NDMC staff dug a pit close to the fallen tree and a JCB and tractor move the tree into the pit. Precautionary spraying of insecticides and pesticides was followed by the erection of two supporting wooden legs on the tree trunk. The staff carried out a similar procedure last month to save an Amaltas.
Suhas Borker, founding member of Greencircle of Delhi, said the idea was to send a message that each tree counted and efforts had to be made to save every single one of them. “The rohida is considered a community tree. People bathe under it in the belief that it will rid your skin of diseases. People even hang their clothes on the tree for its medicinal properties,” said Borker, who has long been working to save these trees in Lodhi Garden.
NDMC officials pointed at the new leaves that the replanted Amaltas was sprouting, symbol of success in reviving uprooted trees. Saving trees, however, is not an activity that can be planned at leisure. Experts point out that there is a window of a few hours after which the chances of survival of a replanted tree goes down drastically.
“In normal conditions, it takes two-three months to replant a tree with proper planning, but in situations such as storms, one cannot wait for too long because the tree can die once uprooted,” pointed out Faiyaz Khudsar, scientist in-charge at the Yamuna Biodiversity Park. “Ficus species and woody trees are sturdier and have a better chance of surviving, but all trees require a lot of nurturing thereafter to survive.”
Verhaen Khanna, a resident of New Friends Colony and founder of the group New Delhi Nature Society, oversaw one such successful replantation last month. When a peepal fell, the RWA did not give up on the decades-old tree and immediately alerted the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, power utility BSES and Delhi Police for help replanting it. “We removed the top half of the tree to make it easier for it to stand,” elaborated Khanna. “We dug a deep pit and used a crane to put the tree in it. We then created supports for the trunk. Trees like these have a good chance of surviving, but most people don’t make an effort to save them.”
NGO Green Circle and residents of Dwarka have come up with a tree clinic. The group sprang into action after Dwarka resident Anurag Behl posted a picture on social media of a tree that fell during the storm in early May.
Selvarajan, secretary of Green Circle and founder of the tree clinic, visited the spot with the NGO’s vice-chairman Anil Parashar. They decided to dig a 2-feet pit around the tap roots. The tree stood on the premises of a Gurdwara, so volunteers from the shrine pitched in with help.
According to Selvarajan, the tree was leaning to one side. “We pulled it up and provided support on one side before covering the pit. We also used bricks in the soil for additional support,” he said. Happily, people have reported seeing new leaves on the tree. The buoyed NGO plans to tackle fallen trees in this manner now. “We have been tracking such trees and anyone who wishes to join us in this task is welcome,” said Selvarajan.