Hunt to trace ancient trees for heritage tag - Intach includes five districts under project to create awareness on and preserve Assam's bio-diversity

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By DAULAT RAHMAN
  • Published 25.01.11
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Guwahati, Jan. 24: The hunt for the old will eventually pave the way for a greener Assam.

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) is trying to trace trees that are over a hundred years old to accord them heritage status.

The convenor of the Assam chapter of Intach, Dinesh Baishya, told The Telegraph that Kamrup, Kamrup Metro, Jorhat, Morigaon and Lakhimpur districts have been included under the heritage tree project.

He said more districts would be covered in a phased manner in the future.

The trust has found 300-year-old banyan and bakul trees in Mayong in Morigaon district and Majuli in Jorhat district respectively.

The prime objective of the project is to create awareness on the contribution of trees and to encourage people to plant more saplings.

“Considering the rich bio-diversity of Assam, it has been included in the heritage tree project of Intach, along with only five other states in India. Once the 100-year-old trees are traced, Intach experts will document the same and ensure their preservation for the future,” Baishya said.

Documentation will cover every aspect of the trees, including botanical characteristics, origin, historical backgrounds, beliefs and legends associated with trees and the history of temples and villages where the trees have grown.The heritage tree project has assumed significance, as Assam has the 700-year-old historic bakhar bengena tree at Bakata in Sivasagar district.

According to a belief, the famous Barahi, King Mahamanikya of Jayantiapur, planted the 30-foot tree.

Renowned botanist U.N. Kanchilan discovered the tree in 1939 and gave it the scientific name of Rendia ulizinsa.

“The project has come at a time when the state has been making headlines for rampant and illegal felling of valuable old trees. Apart from documenting the trees which have crossed 100 years, Intach will take all measures for their preservation and protection. There are several century old trees, which are neither recognised nor preserved properly. We will take the full responsibility for such trees, which are faced with the threat of extinction,” Baishya said. He said Intach is confident of tracing over 1,000 trees for the heritage tag initially for five districts in the state.

Baishya said once the heritage tag was accorded to a tree, the municipal bodies, the forest department and others associated with preservation of heritage would be responsible for its maintenance and preservation.

Associate professor of botany, Cotton College, Saranga Ranjan Patgiri, appreciated the venture and said it would go a long way in saving the state’s bio-diversity. He said over 40,000 trees have been destroyed in the name of construction of the four-lane East West Corridor in Assam and no effort has so far been taken for replantation.

“There will be several trees in Assam which have crossed 100 years. Even on the Cotton College campus we have trees that are nearly 80 to 90 years old,” Patgiri said.