Bindu Shajan Perappadan

NEW DELHI: The Capital stands to lose at least 114 species of trees if the proposed project to connect National Highway 24 here to Lodhi Road goes through.

A rough survey of the largest Government-owned "botanical experiment site" -- now facing the danger of being uprooted -- by well-known environmentalist Pradip Krishen indicates that over a thousand trees are earmarked for destruction.

Facing the axe at Sunder Nursery are species including Pink Cedar (the only species of its kind found in Delhi), Atalantia (a rare tree species), Khasi (the only one of its kind in the Capital) and West Indian Elm (the sole surviving specimen of its species), to name a few.

Even "desi babool", fast disappearing from the inner city, finds sanctuary in Sunder Nursery.

"My survey shows that at least 114 species of plants located in the demolition zone will be lost with the construction of the proposed underground transport corridor. To place this number in perspective, the whole of Lodhi Garden - which is undoubtedly the most carefully cultivated garden in this city - has only 110 species of trees and palms growing within its bounds. Sunder Nursery holds more species of cultivated and wild trees than any other patch of land in the city. Many rare and unusual species of trees will be axed with the construction of the tunnel that aims to reduce travel time from the Trans-Yamuna area to Lodhi Road and provide an easy access to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium from the proposed Commonwealth Games Village site,'' says Mr. Krishen.

The nursery houses a number of very unusual and rare trees that are in the demolition zone and some are the sole specimens of their kind in this city.

"Are we prepared to watch this valuable natural resource get gobbled up by the proposed road? Sunder Nursery is the prime nursery for the government agency responsible for planting avenue trees in Lutyens' Delhi and inside the bungalows of this area as well. This is where various species were brought for `field trials' to see if they would do well in Delhi's climate and soil conditions. With the destruction of so many trees we are also cutting into and reducing the city's green lung,'' adds Mr. Krishen.