NEW DELHI: After several failed attempts, the encroachment in the form of a temple located in the middle of the carriageway in Chandni Chowk was successfully removed in the early morning hours of Sunday. The structure was coming in the way of the Chandni Chowk redevelopment and pedestrianisation project. However, the fate of the peepal tree growing next to the temple structure remains unclear.
For now, the bulldozers have left the tree of the ficus species untouched. Some officials cited the Delhi High Court ban on felling of trees in the area for the circumspection. The riposte to this was that unless the tree was transplanted in some other location, the goal of clearing the right of way on the carriageway wouldn’t be achieved.
A PWD official involved in the execution of the redevelopment project said that there were 90 full-grown trees on the 17th century boulevard and attempts had been made to protect them. “Only two of the existing trees were creating hurdles for the project. One of them is located near Fountain Chowk and the other is this particular peepal tree growing next to where the temple stood,” said the official. “The tree at Fountain Chowk was incorporated into the project, but the planners are concerned that if the temple tree is not removed or transplanted elsewhere, the purpose of clearing the right of way won’t not be achieved.”
The official disclosed that an application will soon be made to the forest department to have the tree relocated. “Compensatory planting with grown trees will be carried out if permission to remove the peepal tree is granted. We will also be growing ornamental plants and herbs along the footpath,” the official added.
In the Chandni Chowk pedestrianisation and redevelopment project, greening of the entire stretch is to be carried out with 118 ornamental trees and 140 flower pots being placed in the 1,300-metre redevelopment stretch between Red Fort and Fatehpuri Masjid. Officials say that these will mostly be native species. “We have divided the whole area into four zones. The first zone between Lal Jain Mandir and Gurdwara Sisganj will have six trees and 64 flower pots. The second from the gurdwara to Town Hall will have nine trees and 42 planters,” the official revealed.
Extensive greening of the heritage area will be carried out between Town Hall and Fatehpuri Masjid. “Around 67 trees and eight pots will be placed between Town Hall and Ballimaran, and then 36 trees and 26 pots till Fatehpuri. These trees will improve the ambience and provide shade for pedestrians in summer,” the official said.
The removal of the temple has created a political controversy. It is, therefore, with some caution that PWD is considering the peepal tree obstruction.