Tree planting along the Harmu river will now be done with the advice of experts from Birsa Agriculture University (BAU), urban development secretary Ajoy Kumar Singh said on Tuesday.
Singh on Tuesday inspected rejuvenation and tree planting work for nearly an hour along the 10.5km stretch of the river, a tributary of the Subernarekha.
“I have asked Juidco (Jharkhand Urban Infrastructure Development Company) to take help of experts from BAU in selection of trees suitable for the topography. We would like to avail expertise of BAU scientists in selection of fruit-bearing trees as it would help in creating a sense of ownership among local residents and deter them from polluting the river,” said Singh.
Juidco officials will discuss with BAU scientists later this week and then select the trees to be planted under corporate social responsibility (CSR) funding of vendors of Juidco. Shapoorji Pallonji Group, L&T, Tata Steel, Jindal Steel and Juidco have taken the onus of planting saplings as part of the Harmu river rejuvenation project.
“So far we have begun planting ornamental trees like gulmohur and sagwan (teak). However, following directive of the urban development secretary we might see planting of more fruit-bearing trees like guava, mango and coconut after discussions with BAU experts which will take place later this week. Trees will be planted along the pathway too,” said a senior Juidco official.
However, the question is whether planting saplings can revive the river, which has turned into a drain. The state government has already spent Rs 81 crore of the Rs 83 crore earmarked for the first phase to renovate the Harmu, a task undertaken by Juidco, an arm of the urban development department, and executed by Maharashtra-based company Eagle Infra Limited.
There is little to show for the money spent since 2015 when the rejuvenation push was launched. Jharkhand High Court Justice S.N. Pathak last month dubbed the river “dead”.
“The secretary has also directed for regular deployment of Juidco workers and vans for cleaning of the riverbed and carrying the waste to the dump yards of Ranchi Municipal Corporation and installation of more dustbins so that waste is not dropped into the river,” said Amit Kumar, the urban development department spokesperson. “The Juidco officials were also advised to select an NGO working for the cause of environment protection to carry out awareness campaign against littering among residents living along the riverbank.”