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Extreme Heat withers Patna’s Greenery: Lack of Maintenance Leads to Dying Trees and Plants

By Neeraj Kumar

Patna, June 18: The city of Patna is grappling with severe heat, with temperatures soaring above 44 degrees Celsius for days. This extreme heat is affecting everyone, from residents to the city’s trees and plants. Many roadside trees and plants on road dividers and flyovers are drying up due to the lack of regular watering, causing a significant loss to Patna’s greenery.

Despite annual efforts by the Patna Forest Division, MNREGA, and other departments to plant lakhs of trees, the results are disheartening. For instance, in 2022-23, MNREGA aimed to plant 6.18 lakh saplings in Patna district but managed only 3.77 lakh. Of these, 72.75 percent died due to insufficient care and water.

Over the past three years, the Patna Forest Division has planted 1.51 lakh plants, while Jeevika, NGOs, PSUs, and other schemes have added 6.92 lakh more. MNREGA alone has planted over five lakh plants in the city. However, the lack of regular maintenance has resulted in the death of many ornamental plants planted under the Forest Division.

A few years ago, a cleanliness campaign aimed at beautifying the city saw the placement of small pots with plants along roadsides, dividers, and flyovers. Initially, these plants were watered and maintained, but as attention waned, the greenery began to suffer. Currently, many of these plants are drying up, and the pots are disappearing, particularly on the Bailey Road flyover, R-Block flyover, and Vidhan Sabha flyover.

The once-thriving Peepal and Banyan trees near the Boring Road water tank, which provided shade to locals, are now in a dire state. The Peepal tree is nearly dead, posing a risk of falling branches, while the Banyan tree is partially dried up. Similarly, many trees near Hartali Mor are on the verge of drying up after several were cut down.

The Veerchand Patel Path, transformed into a model road by the Patna Smart City Mission with investments in drainage, pathways, and street lights, also suffers from neglected greenery. The plants on the dividers, initially intended to create a green corridor, are mostly dead due to poor maintenance, threatening the environment further.

Patna Forest Division Officer Gaurav Jha stated that the department ensures the plants are taken care of, including regular watering. He promised to monitor the condition of roadside and flyover plants if they are drying up. The division plans to plant 3.50 lakh saplings during the 2024-25 rainy season, while MNREGA aims to plant 7.75 lakh saplings. The forest department will provide 2.75 lakh saplings to MNREGA at Rs 30 each, targeting a total of 11.25 lakh saplings in Patna this monsoon.

As the severe heat continues, not only are humans and animals suffering, but the city’s greenery is also in peril. Without urgent and sustained efforts to water and maintain these plants, Patna’s green cover will continue to dwindle, posing a significant threat to the environment. The surprising lack of initiatives by the Patna Forest Division to address the drying trees is a growing concern.

The author is a Patna based journalist 

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