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Central Vista: Advisor says Rajpath won’t lose rai-jamun trees

“Rajpath won’t lose its lawns or the rai-jamun trees,” naturalist-author Pradip Krishen, who is involved in the Central Vista Redevelopment Plan, has told The Indian Express.

In his personal capacity as advisor, he has suggested two species of trees to potentiate the scheme — the pilkhan and the kosam.

There are 52 of these trees being brought in. Explaining the tree scheme along Rajpath for the project, he said, “Only 26 out of a total of 1,180 rai-jamun trees will need to be transplanted to make space for public toilets and amenities. All of these 26 will ‘travel’ only a short distance to new spots on Rajpath’s lawns, so there’s half a chance they could survive,” he said.

Since September 2020, he has been an advisor with the design team for tree planting. In July last year, Krishen, with former secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests Meena Gupta, and environmentalist Ashish Kothari, was a petitioner in the Supreme Court and had intervened for environmental clearance given for the project.

“When you revamp a major boulevard tree scheme like this one, you’re reaching into a time that stretches at least a century hence. I felt it’s really important to think through a scheme we’re going to have to live with for a long, long time and do whatever I possibly can to make it better,” he said.

Krishen is also on an expert committee set up by the Supreme Court to look at ways to mitigate irreversible damage to natural wilderness and biodiversity from development projects like roads, mining and dams.

About trees that will be felled or transplanted at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Krishen said, “I wasn’t part of the discussion or planning for IGNCA’s grounds… I have no confidence at all in anyone’s ability to successfully transplant those trees. The figs have surface roots and might just survive if they’re handled carefully. The rest are likely doomed; it’s awful.”

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