Pune: Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Wednesday launched a pilot project to ecologically restore the central ridge and it involves replacing invasive Mexican trees ‘vilayati kikar’ with indigenous species.
The central ridge is spread over 864 hectares and according to a plan announced last year, 423 hectares of it will be restored in five years.
”The invasive ‘vilayati kikar’ is spread over 7,500 hectares in Delhi which is not conducive to the capital’s environment. We have today launched a pilot project to remove this tree species from 10 hectares in the central ridge,” Rai told reporters.
The government had in March last year set up a six-member advisory committee to monitor the progress of the project and ensure timely and effective on-ground compliance.
The forest department plans to remove ‘vilayati kikar’, which doesn’t allow other species to thrive and leads to water table depletion, through canopy lifting and planting native trees, shrubs and grasses suitable for the ridge’s soil.
Considered the lungs of the national capital, the ridge is an extension of the Aravalli hill range in Delhi and is a rocky, hilly and forested area.
It has been divided into four zones — south, south-central, central and north — due to administrative reasons. These four zones make up a total area of around 7,784 hectares.