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Low water table preventing new plant species in Aravallis, say officials

Gurugram: The plan to remove Kikar ((Prosopis Julifora) trees from the Aravallis and replace them with new species of trees is proving to be a major challenge for the forest department officials. Considered to be a major source of sapping out ground water, a formal proposal of introducing indigenous varieties like Prospis Cineria (Khejri), Senegalia Catechu (Khair), Cordia Dichotma (Lasoda), Butea Monosperma (Palash) have been making rounds for a long time.
The problem of low quantity of water is also preventing the forest officials to plant new species of trees in the Gurugram Aravallis. Presently, the forest cover of the district is donned by Kikar trees in the 34 square kilometres open area of forests. Moreover, the steps adopted to clear out wild shrubs and Kikar spread in 17 square kilometres of the outer forest areas of the region have come under heavy criticism of green activists. Not only in Delhi but even Gurugram's green cover is getting adversely affected by huge plantation of Kikar (Prosopis Julifora) in the city.
The presence of large number of Kikar in Aravallis is also affecting the fauna in Aravallis. Most of the animals like leopards and Nilgais are venturing in the human habitats as they do not want to consume the thorny leaves of Kikar. Most of the animals are also getting injured because of the sharp pointed leaves of Kikar, said the officials.
The species of Kikar were introduced by the British in the area more than hundred years ago. Large scale plantation of Kikar was done by the British in the Aravallis green belt of Rajasthan, South Haryana and South West Delhi. "It is not that Kikar is not a good tree. When it was introduced by the British it had its relevance. However, in today's context a large number of Kikar in Aravallis is not proving to be useful for flora and fauna of Aravallis. At a time when parts of city are having low groundwater reserves, Kikar's is not proving to be useful in enhancing the ground water reserves," said a senior official from Gurugram Forest division. The forest survey conducted by the union ministry of forests and environment has mentioned that the water table in forests of Haryana has reduced to 24 percent from 2005 to 2017.
The adverse impact of the depleting water table is also being felt in the Aravallis in Gurugram. Taking cognisance of the report, the officials of south Haryana forest department have affirmed that steps will be taken to enhance the natural aquifers of Aravallis.
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