An ambulance to the aid of trees

It was a regular day at work with Metrolife busy hot-footing through the streets, exploring the city for its little known places, people and ancient heritage. Just as the enthusiasm to explore began to wilt under the scorching summer sun, and the tantalising mirage on the baked concrete roads, signifying water ahead, played tricks with the eyes, we came across a truly rare sight – a Tree Ambulance! In a city notorious for its polluted air and fast diminishing green cover, a tree ambulance would naturally evoke curiosity, given that few know of its existence or its utility.

It is amusing to note that though the tree ambulance has been functioning in the city for nearly five years now, not many people, save those who are involved with the initiative, know about it. Also, the initiative is restricted to only the National Capital. Apparently, there is also a help­line number : 011-41501354 and an email address:

director.horticulture@ndmcmail.gov.in, where citizens can call up if a tree in their vicinity
has been felled by a storm; is causing obstruction or is generally ailing.

Launched in 2010 by the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), the Tree
Ambulance, quite like a regular ambulance with its medical paraphernalia, except for the green cross, was rolled out to attend to ailing trees in the city, preserve and nurture them and help them stand tall.

Speaking to Metrolife, JP Sharma, director, of Horticulture Department, NDMC, revealed interesting and lesser known facts about the Tree Ambulance. “In the past five years, there has been a commendable progress in the condition of the trees in Delhi and, areas like Aurangzeb Road and Akbar Road can provide some beautiful illustrations for the same. We feel proud of the fact that only Delhi supports something so crucial for the environment,” says Sharma.

Just like an ailing patient needs to be cured, so does a tree in a critical condition, he says. “While we always keep ourselves equipped with a well maintained first aid kit, the tree ambulance has its own kit with instruments and medicines. From 5.5 litre water tanks to a chain saw, from a water pump to a tree pruner, the Tree Ambulance is well equipped with similar necessities that are required for their maintenance,” the directors lists out the medical accoutrements.

“We cater to the lakhs of trees in the city and we always have to be sure if the ambulance and its instruments are well kept and maintained. It happens quite often that the trees fall sick and their quality starts deteriorating. For such situations we keep relevant medicines that help the trees to revive their lost qualities,” he adds.

However, Sharma refutes the claim that few people are aware of the ambulance and that they do contact them if a tree in their neighbourhood has fallen or been uprooted in a storm and is causing obstruction. “Recently we got a call about a fallen tree in Punjabi Bagh and we immediately reached the place to look into the matter” Sharma
tells Metrolife.

“People can contact us anywhere. They can contact our additional director or any other official. We also have a helpline number on our website, where people can get in touch with us.”

One of the very crucial contributions of the Tree Ambulance, says Sharma, is the plantation of trees carried out across the city. “Those that add colour to our environment are mostly planted in winters, and others like the neem and peepal trees are
regularly planted in the required areas.”

But the main challenge for the city is during the seasonal changes, particularly during the monsoons, when thunderstorms, hailstorms and heavy rains are regular occurrences. Trees falling on the traffic signals and on the roads can cause a major hindrance to the daily routines of the people. “This is one of our major points of concern,” says Sharma.

“We have an emergency staff for such situations and we try to reach the affected area at the earliest. Our main focus is to avoid traffic, and the ambulance enables
a speedy removal of the fallen trees.”

Surely then, a Tree Ambulance is an initiative that every city must adopt. So all you Dilliwallas out there, for a clean Delhi and green Delhi, make the best use of Tree Ambulance that you spot in your locality and contribute to your environment today!

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