Smriti Kak Ramachandran

Its rich flora and fauna would be open to residents of the Estate

NEW DELHI: Spanning 330 acres of forest and rolling land, the Rashtrapati Bhavan Estate here now is gearing up to take stock of its winged visitors. Home to a rich assortment of trees and plants, the township that houses more than 7,500 people also plays host to a variety of birds.

However, with little information available on the type and the number of birds that are found within the Estate, the President’s office is now all set to collate data about the birds that come home to roost in the august expanse.

“President Pratibha Patil is keen to ensure that there is harmony between the humans and the habitat. Since the Estate attracts a wide variety of birds owing to its dense green cover, we are mulling over the possibility of starting a nature’s trail inside the Estate,” said an official of the President’s office over the weekend.

The nature’s trail, which will spell a bonanza for lovers of flora and fauna, will be open exclusively to the residents who live within the Estate.

“Initially we will organise a tour for the residents of the Estate. This will sensitise them about their immediate environment and encourage them to help in its conservation and development,” the official said.

The President’s Estate offers bird-watchers a visual treat. Apart from peacocks and peahens, visitors to the erstwhile viceregal Lodge can spot spotbills (resident ducks of Delhi Region) near the water channels in the gardens.

Parrots, mynahs, doves and pigeons, cormorants and transiting storks have also been spotted in the Estate, a part of which rolls into Delhi’s Ridge.

So far the President’s office has not been able to take a call on whether some animals, like deer, could be brought in to form a nature’s niche inside the Estate. “There are nonetheless plans to extend the green cover of the Estate, protect the flora and the fauna and involve the residents in the endeavour. Ms. Patil is very particular that Rashtrapati Bhavan should be eco-friendly,” the official pointed out.

A proposal to convert the mammoth waste generated in the President’s gardens into vermin-compost has been accepted. Vermi-composting pits will be set up in the Dalikhana of the President’s Estate where the waste will be converted into manure.