If you love your city, you must love its greenery too. But Dwarka is slowly witnessing a drying up of its green cover. Hundreds of dead sheesham trees can be seen in various sectors along the master plan roads and parks.
According to sources, there are more than 500 such dried-up trees in the sub-city — and others are on their way there. They can be seen everywhere — at Sector 14, in front of Netaji Subhash Apartments and Shabad Apartments in Sector 13, near DAV School in Sector 6, along master plan roads, Sector 22, at the DDA park in Sector 14 and many more such places.
So what's happening to the sheesham trees? These were chosen to adorn Dwarka because they needed a relatively short time to grow and the upcoming satellite city required a quick green cover, explain DDA officials. But with the declining humidity in the soil and a falling water table, these trees are now drying up.
Though residents feel a termite infestation in the city could be the reason behind the sheesham trees drying up, DDA officials have a different explanation to offer. Deputy director of Horticulture, DDA, Prem Chandra, elaborates, "We have discussed the matter with scientists of Pusa Institute of Technology. This issue concerns not just Dwarka, but the whole of Delhi. Across the NCR, sheesham trees are drying up. This particular species thrives in humid soil, but the earth is slowly turning dry. This change has led to the birth of certain parasites and insects in the soil that are not conducive to the growth of sheesham trees."
There are other perspectives too. Environment conservator of the sub-city, Diwan Singh, says, “The dying sheesham trees in Dwarka reflect the city's rapidly declining ecology. Contaminated groundwater, lack of biodiversity and the falling water table are all responsible. Termite infestation is more acute in arid areas, hence dry soil is not fit for growing sheesham trees. The Horticulture Department concentrated on growing a few selected species to develop a green cover in a rush. It must now make efforts to plant species that are native to the eco-system to restore the balance. Simultaneously, it must try and revive the water bodies and create woodlands."
An RTI and environmental activist in Dwarka, Ramesh Mumukshu, says, “All along the master plan roads, you will find sheesham trees dying. Fifty per cent of Dwarka's greenery can be attributed to them. So we face a grave situation and the DDA must take the matter seriously. The dead trees should be replaced with other species must be planted too.”
Chandra agrees. He says, “Planting of sheesham trees in the sub-city has been stopped. We have written to the Forest Department to cut down the dead trees so we can replace them with other trees. Now, we intend to plant Ficus varieties, which have a good survival rate in this soil and climate.”
But the DDA is now faced with a dilemma: What happens to the sheesham trees that are still green? No matter what steps they take, these trees will continue to pose a challenge to the Authority.