On the occasion of International Day of Forests, Delhi Lt. Governor, VK Saxena along with Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav on Tuesday launched the plantation drive for restoration of the Yamuna floodplains on the 11 km stretch between Bela Farms – Shastri Park – Garhi Mandu, from Garhi Mandu in North East Delhi.
Area MP Manoj Tiwari and local MLA Ajay Mahavar were also present on the occasion.
About 10,000 children from schools, colleges and universities and common residents of the city participated in the plantation program. The LG and the Union Environment Minister, along with children planted 5,000 saplings, informed the DDA.
A triple grid plant cover consisting of riverine grasses in the first layer, immediately on the banks of the river, a second layer of bamboo trees and the third layer of flowering trees will be developed on this, till now neglected, barren and depleted Eastern Bank of the Yamuna, which had turned into a dump yard of waste.
More than 04 lakh saplings of riverine grasses including Kaas, Moonj and Vertiver, 70,000 bamboo saplings and 13,500 saplings of flowering plants including Gulmohar, Takoma, Amaltas, Dhak and Semal will adorn this stretch of the Yamuna Bank, in the process helping restore the floodplains and rejuvenate the Yamuna through a sustainable and aesthetically appealing natural ecosystem.
Addressing the people present there, the Lt. Governor said that, following the National Green Tribunal order in January, work on the rejuvenation of the Yamuna was going on in Mission Mode and going by the results that are visible in terms of cleaning of Najafgarh Drain, cleaning of Kudsia Ghat and development of the floodplains at Asita East, Asita West and Baansera, one could expect ‘good results’ very soon.
LG Saxena further said all Departments and civic agencies of Delhi were working as a team to clean the Yamuna, which had turned into a polluted drain due to neglect and isolated efforts by agencies during the last 30 years. He further informed that all efforts towards rejuvenation of the river were getting active support of the people and children of Delhi. Recalling Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s dictum of seamless governance through active people’s participation, the Lt. Governor said that the works of cleaning the Yamuna were now being undertaken as per the vision of the Prime Minister.
“Our PM says that no work can be done without public participation and I am happy to state that we have received immense cooperation from the people of Delhi n this drive,” he said.
This massive and a first of its kind restoration and rejuvenation of the 11-km stretch of Yamuna floodplains undertaken today will not only rehabilitate the degraded soil and recharge the groundwater but also significantly improve the aesthetics of the area while maintaining the ecological character of the Yamuna floodplains. Physical cleaning of the banks/floodplains by way of removing garbage, dumped C&D waste, animal waste and encroachments was undertaken following the inspection of Lt. Governor VK Saxena on 11th March 2023.
DDA has chalked out an extensive plantation exercise that involves a triple grid layered design wherein the first layer of the grid will have riverine grasses, the second layer will have bamboo plantations and in the third layer various flowering and fruit bearing trees/plants will be planted. In the first phase, plantation will be carried out over 4.50 lakh sq meter of land that includes bamboo plantation over 2 lakh sq meter of land, riverine grasses over 70,000 sq meter and flowering trees over 1.80 lakh sq meter of land.
As part of the restoration and rejuvenation works, a variety of 13,371 flowering / ornamental trees like Gulmohar (548 nos.), Amaltas (5524 nos.), Legerstroemia (1279 nos.), Erythrina (2469 nos.), Takoma (640 nos), Jakaranda (877 nos.), Dhak (407 nos.) and Semal (1626 nos.) will be planted. These trees growing up to the height of 15 to 25 meters, will be helpful in increasing the green cover and enhancing the aesthetics of the floodplains.
Similarly, three species of bamboo – Bambusa Nutans (32,691 nos.), Bambus Tulda (19,228 nos.) and Dendrocalamus (18,321 nos.) – are being planted on this stretch. Bamboos are known for high water retention and soil conservation besides emitting 30 per cent more oxygen than other plants/trees and thus improving the air quality. While Bambusa Nutans in essentially an ornamental species; the other two species – Bambus Tulda and Dendrocalamus are extensively used as raw material in cottage industries.
Riverine grasses are extremely critical for the restoration of the flood plains. DDA, like Asita East, will be planting three species of riverine grasses – Kaas (1,38,075 nos.), Moonj (1,39,604 nos.) and Vertiver (1,29,796 nos.) – at this stretch. Vetiver grass is extremely useful in recharging groundwater, reducing siltation of drainage systems and water bodies and for remediation of degraded and polluted soil. Vetiver grass can tolerate extremely high levels of heavy metals and is also regarded as a low-cost technology for soil and water conservation. Similarly, Moonj grass is a perennial grass species and once plated, the roots of the plant do not die for about 24-30 years after spreading. Moonj grass works to prevent soil erosion.
The rejuvenation of the floodplains is being done through the universal principles of ecological restoration by restoring the natural depressions, creating the catchment zones, reviving the floodplain forests and grasslands and creating favourable habitats, especially for water and terrestrial birds. Cleaning/desilting, restoration and maintenance of the two main water bodies will also be done by DDA on the banks, with the aim of ultimately interconnecting all the water bodies at different locations through a channel. This interconnectivity will ensure uniform water levels in all the water bodies, added the DDA release.
Once rejuvenated by DDA, this site will develop as a one of its kind public green in the locality, which has been suffering the most due to unplanned urbanization and degradation. The area adjoins localities like Seelampur, Shastri Park and Shahdara etc.