ibnlive » India

Jun 08, 2007 at 03:21pm IST

Tree puts Delhi Ridge on the edge

New Delhi: The Ridge is Delhi's pride. It is the green lung that fights urban chaos and concrete jungles. But experts say that the Ridge simply looks green and that it takes more than it gives.

The problem lies with a tree called the Prosopis Juliflura or Vilayati Kikar. Delhi's Ridge forest area is spread over close to 8000 acres, and the Kikar occupies 70 per cent of that area.

Experts say it's an invasive species that has gradually killed the native vegetation in the Ridge.

Says botonist, C R Babu, "Prosopis cover is not providing even 1/100th ecological services that it should provide."

The Kikar has a wide canopy, but unlike native trees like the Mohua or the Berna, it can't control dust storms or help prevent soil erosion or bring down temperatures.

It also uses up a large amount of underground water, killing all undergrowth and grasses near it - something that's worrying environmentalists and even the state government.

Says Delhi Chief Minister, Sheila Dixit, "Somehow the Kikar grew, but we are very keen and conscious of the fact that there should be a mix of all kinds of tress."

The process of restoring the Ridge begins with pruning the Kikars and simultaneously planting new trees near the pruned tree, something that will take at least 15-20 years.