‘Plantation strategy for Rajpath planned after tree survey’

Rajpath is flanked by lawns about 70 metres wide, water canals and rows of trees.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

A survey of trees along the iconic Rajpath is being conducted to draw a new plantation strategy, according to the architects of the larger Central Vista redevelopment project.

Along with the skyline of Lutyens’ Delhi, the treeline of Rajpath has been proposed to be changed as part of the redevelopment project that includes the construction of a new Parliament building and 10 office buildings for the common Central Secretariat.

Bimal Patel, director of the Ahmedabad-based HCP Design, Planning and Management, the Central Public Works Department’s consultant for the project, told the Maharashtra Association of Schools of Architecture in a virtual address on June 13 that a detailed survey had been delayed due to the lockdown, but would be taken up soon.

He said over the years since the trees on Rajpath were first planted, the original strategy had been abandoned and the choice of species and locations had changed. He said the canals along the Rajpath would be ‘refurbished’ and “permanent bridges” would be made over them for visitors and the attendees of the Republic Day parade, for which bridges are put up and dismantled every year.

In a written response to The Hindu on Tuesday, the HCP said the survey had been started in February to identify the species, location, size, condition and other features of each and every tree on the Avenue.

Deliberate planting plan

“Based on the finding of this survey, a very deliberate planting plan for restoring and enhancing the tree cover will be worked out as a part of the overall landscape strategy for the Central Vista Avenue,” it said.

The statement said the Rajpath, which is the street in the centre of the 2-km-long Central Vista Avenue from India Gate to Vijay Chowk, is flanked by lawns about 70 metre wide, water canals and rows of trees.

“When the Avenue was originally designed and laid out in the 1920s, it had 10 symmetric rows of trees, five on either side of the Rajpath. The trees were planted in a combination of diagonal and square grid and only two species were used — rows of Jamuns and rows of Ficus trees. The strict geometry of the planting and the austere palette were crucial to establishing the formal order and spartan character of the Avenue.”

Today, however, the statement said while most of the trees are the ones planted originally, others have been planted since then.

“It is also clearly evident that the original planting strategy has long been abandoned. As some time in the past, rows of bottle brushes were added along the Avenue...Just over 10 years ago, two rows of Jamun trees were added to the original 10 rows. Here, instead of following the diagonal grid of the original landscape, trees were planted in a square grid. It is unclear why this row was added and why the diagonal grid was abandoned,” the HCP said.

According to it, there are now over 45 species in “random locations”.

“In another place a set of original trees have been removed to create space for the large presidential dais that is built there for the Republic Day celebrations. It is fair to say as a consequence of much unthoughtful additions and alterations in the past decades, the Avenue’s landscape has become very disorderly and lacks its original formal character,” it said.

The most important issue, it said, was that many of the original trees were nearing the “end of their life cycle”.

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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 1:47:43 PM |

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