TAMIL NADU

On this national highway, tree parks on either side

CHENNAI, OCT. 11. If you've had a chance to take the road to Bangalore (national highways 7 and 46) you might have seen rows of trees fenced off by thorny bushes by the side. If you stopped to take a closer look, you might possibly have recognised some of the varieties planted.

In case you're wondering, the road margins of the 70-km four-lane expressway from Hosur to Bargur have been allotted to Krishnagiri district's Hosur forest division, who have decided to set up — no surprises here — tree parks. The department proposes to plant 60,000 saplings on this stretch.

Three-tier method

A three-tier method has been adopted for the tree parks. Taller varieties such as silver oak and rain tree form the last of the tiers, while species such as neem, pungan (Pongamia Pinnatta), mahagani and illupai (Basia Latifolia) will form the second tier.

Next to the road margins, you get edible fruit trees such as Indian cherry (Guasuma Tomentosa).

"If you look at the trees from the road, they will form a three-tier slope-like pattern," explains S. Paulraj, district forest officer of Hosur forest division. One to seven rows will be planted on either side of the road depending on land availability.

Each tree is planted at a distance of five metres to prevent encroachers, he says. Seven roadside parks have been planned at an interval of 10-km each. Drinking water pipes and benches will be provided at the parks.

The trees will be maintained for three years by the Forest department and will later be handed over to the National Highway authorities. The cost of greening the 70 km-stretch for three years is about Rs. 2.50 crores. Some 25,000 saplings have been planted till September. The rest will be planted before monsoon end.

To ensure better survival, the saplings have been planted in larger pits, treated with vermin-compost, farmyard manure and tank silt.

A watchman will be posted for each 2 km stretch. Tankers will be used to water the trees during the dry months to ensure 90 per cent survival, says Dr. Paulraj.

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