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Plantation drive at bio-diversity park in Noida

By Madhuri Adnal
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    Noida, Aug 30: Around 600 trees were planted at the city's upcoming 75-acre biodiversity park in Sector 91, amid opposition by some people who have raised concern over the felling of eucalyptus trees in the area for the project.

    Plantation drive at bio-diversity park in Noida

    This project, besides another 'Medicinal and Herbal Park', is being prepared in the same sector which will be opened for public in October, officials said.

    "Today varieties such as neem, jamun, imli, pilkhan, kachnaar, ashok, gulmohar, amla, harad, baheda, banyan and guava were planted in the park. Around 600 such plantations were done with many trees measuring a height of 10 to 15 feet," Noida Authority officials said.

    Also Read | Delhi's own 'chipko' movement: Protest to protect 14,000 trees

    Around 5,000 varieties of native trees and 1,00,000 species of miniature plants will be planted in the sprawling biodiversity park which is scheduled to be completed in next six months at a cost of Rs 50 crore, they said.

    The officials of the horticulture department, local citizens and representatives from various Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) participated in the plantation drive today.

    Meanwhile, some locals protested the cutting down of around 3,000 eucalyptus trees in the forest in Sector 91 on which the park is being developed.

    Chhavi Methi, 42, who lives in Sector 50, said the fact that people are disturbing an ecosystem is upsetting her.

    "Why are we hell bent on concretising everything? The bureaucrats and politicians must understand that the environment should be on top priority. If you play with my environment, I will not tolerate it," she said.

    Ashish Sachdeva, 29, an environmentalist and social entrepreneur, who resides close to this forest area, said he had moved from Delhi to Noida primarily for the greenery and fresh air in this area.

    "Government bodies are not taking climate change seriously and cutting fully grown trees in the name of development. Hence, citizens need to stand together, he said.

    Officials of the Gautam Buddh Nagar Forest Department, however, said that the Noida Authority had in January sought permission for cutting 4,000 trees in the forest area and in March they were permitted to fell 3,000 2,995 eucalyptus and five babool trees.

    Also Read | Maharashtra's 'model green' village fought against drought by planting trees on special occasions

    "These eucalyptus trees were planted in 1986-87, they are over 31-year-old. Generally eucalyptus trees have a life or maturity age of 15 years. They are water-intensive trees and don't even have neither any environmental nor timber value," Divisional Forest Officer Pramod Kumar Srivastava said.

    He said the department has got to know that the contractor working on the park have cut a neem tree and five babool trees beyond those permitted.

    "We have registered a case against the contractor under the Trees Protection Act of 1976 and formed a team to inspect the area for any other such violations," the DFO said.

    Range Officer Kitab Singh Yadav, who is heading the inspection team, said so far 1,980 trees have been counted which have been cut and the final number will be out tomorrow.

    "We could not continue the counting today due to rain. The counting of the felled trees would be completed tomorrow, he said.

    Sources involved in the development of the park also clarified that it is "a biodiversity and not a recreational park" as was being projected by some people.

    "There is no amphitheatre of food courts being made there, it only has a soft jogging park on its periphery and a motorable pathway inside the park to facilitate movement of people with special needs," the sources said.

    "The use of concrete in the park is not more than five to six per cent of the entire 75 acre area," they said, adding, "the idea is to involve more youth and enthusiasts like botany students to see and understand the different biomes.

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