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Nature yields ground to city in Rajokri

Times of India, 22 April 2012 - It used to be a wildlife habitat and the city's heat sink, but Rajokri forest now seems like a casualty of urbanization. Vasant Kunj residents recall sighting nilgai, deer, and wild hare with ease in the 600-acre kikar forest only a few years ago. In their place, now one finds traffic, mounds of construction rubble and garbage.

NEW DELHI: It used to be a wildlife habitat and the city's heat sink, but Rajokri forest now seems like a casualty of urbanization. Vasant Kunj residents recall sighting nilgai, deer, and wild hare with ease in the 600-acre kikar forest only a few years ago. In their place, now one finds traffic, mounds of construction rubble and garbage. 

Even the houses along Church Road seem closer to nature than the barren sprawl the road terminates in. Where the houses have beautifully varied gardens, the forest itself resembles an abandoned quarry. Ashwani Khurana, president of the Church Road Resident Welfare Association, says he has seen the forest dwindle over 15 years. While the overall area has not changed, the woods have thinned from within. "At first, there was a lot of greenery. Now the number of trees has reduced. There used to be small ponds and lakes; these too have shrunk in size." 

Khurana points out that what was once a dirt track through the forest is now an 8-foot short cut for vehicles between Delhi and Gurgaon. "The few animals still there stand at immense risk of being run over, and trucks keep coming and dumping rubble and garbage into the forest." 

More than the piles of garbage what residents worry about is the illegal construction. "The slums bordering the forest have spilled into it. Small temples have been built with bigger complexes inside the forest itself," says Neera Devi, a slum dweller. 

Demanding restoration of the forest, the residents and the Earth Saviours Foundation launched a campaign on Earth Day. As part of the campaign they plan to prepare a report and submit it to lieutenant governor Tejendra Khanna and chief minister Sheila Dikshit. "One of the key demands is to build a fence around the forest and stop the trespassing. We also want the government to maintain the forest and plant more trees to restore it," said president of the foundation, Ravi Kalra. Residents say that 4-5 lakh trees can be planted to restore the forest.

Source: Times of India

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Nature-yields-ground-to-city-in-Rajokri/articleshow/12817813.cms

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