India is urbanizing fast. Various expert committees opine, by 2031, 600 million people living in cities and towns shall contribute to 75% of the national GDP. Such transformation requires Indian cities to be livable first. Urbanization of such high proportion also needs massive urban intervention in form of housing, infrastructure and sustainable urban transport.

Maha-Metro constructing biggest metro rail system in country outside Delhi and Mumbai-

Currently Maha-Metro is constructing 69.5 km of Metro Rail in Nagpur and Pune-which is single largest metro rail project undertaken in the country outside Delhi and Mumbai entrusted to one Metro Rail Corporation. As the mandate of Maha-Metro includes constructing Metro Rail in all cities of Maharashtra outside Mumbai Metropolitan region, and Phase II of both Nagpur and Pune are in advanced planning stage, its foot print is set to increase fast in near future

Negative Environmental Externalities – Bane of Urbanization

Urbanization destroys the green cover of cities bringing in its wake humungous negative environmental externalities. Ironically this problem is further accentuated by urban infrastructure interventions, including urban mass transit projects like Metro Rail construction whose aim is to create and nurture sustainable urban solutions to growing transport gridlock.

Maha-Metro and its Zero Tolerance to Tree Cutting

But saving the green cover of Pune and Nagpur, with “zero tolerance” in tree cutting for the project is what differentiates Maha Metro with its other peers in the country. The USP of the corporation in this regard, has been its unique-Tree Transplantation Technique

Tryst of Maha-Metro with Tree Transplantation

Tree transplantation began in the Maha-Metro in real earnest in its Nagpur Project but it took a quantum jump in Pune, where it was introduced from the day zero. So far more than 800 trees have been saved by this technique of transplantation- 1700 between  Pune and  Nagpur.

And it is just the beginning

Tree transplantation is carried out by adopting the arboriculture procedure. This technology and scientific method never been used by any of the Center and State Governments in India. Tree transplantation starts with canopy pruning in which the arboriculture procedure is done by cutting very fewer branches of the tree. Secondly, root pruning is done, which ensure the reduction of roots without giving any shocks to it. The third step is root ball making whereas fourth procedure is root ball lifting and transit in which high engineering machineries and equipment are involved in making the safe and comfortable transit of the tree to the new location.

Demystifying Tree Transplantation Technique

To put it simply, tree transplantation is the act of digging up, moving the tree from its original location and re-planting it to another location. At the face value what looks simple is extremely delicate process best exemplified by the process of surgery where it is of paramount importance that the patient is diligently prepared to sustain not only the trauma of the surgery but is also kept healthy enough to survive the compulsory period of recuperation and problems if any that come during the process.

At the root of the tree transplantation is “The Root-Ball” that grows laterally inside the soil in all directions. Before a tree is transplanted it is this root-ball which is to be prepared first by meticulous digging of trenches and securing the root-ball if found necessary by selecting pruning of the feeder roots. The root-ball so prepared is secured in burlap or a tarp and tied property to ensure it does not crack during transportation. Also special care is needed to ensure that the root ball does not dry out.

Maha-Metro has chosen a scientific well proven technology for tree transplantation- the method of digging out the tree from its existing location duly protecting the root ball and canopy, transporting the same to a nearby location and   transplanting it carefully and meticulously. The process of transplanting every single tree in a manner that its residual life is kept intact takes  three to four months because transplanting trees is a rather risky affair which if not done properly can bring sudden death to the trees.

Equally important to the process of tree-transplantation in Maha Metro has been preparing the Planting Hole at the re-plantation site which is dug and prepared much before the tree is to be transplanted there. Such transplantation hole is normally as deep as the root balling itself and minimum two to three times. By keeping the site ready in advance Maha Metro invariably has ensured that no damage happens to the transplanted tree due to drying out.

Post-transplantation Maha-Metro has ensured adequate monitoring and maintenance of the trees periodically providing them required water and other nutrients to bring their health back to the original glory

The tree transplantation by Maha-Metro for every single tree thus passes through many careful steps like evaluation and preparation of the site for transplantation to increase the chances of success to make the plant survive and thrive at the new location;.  careful preparation of the root-ball in a manner that shock to the plant is minimized during the transplantation process, decision on the necessity of root pruning if necessary, tools and machinery required for lifting the tree with root ball, properly transporting the same and transplantation at the new location using specialized machinery.

The process of transportation of every single tree transplantation has often been a logistical challenge which has required taking elaborate safety precaution for all the possible hazards. The process of safety precaution began even before beginning any transplanting procedure and equal care were needed at the site of digging, during the process of putting the tree on the moving vehicle, during transportation and at the time of transplantation itself. After transplantation is over, the new process of ensuring that trees survive, thrive and remain healthy at their new abode  for all times to come begins and the track record of Maha Metro in saving the transplanted threes has been credible so far.

Maha Metro has not reinvented tree-transplantation but by making it integral to its being has taken to an unprecedented level in the country; it has created a new ethos of zero tolerance to tree cutting in a major urban infrastructure intervention. And this is just one of its man innovations to ensure that the environmentally sustainable metro rail systems that it creates are equally sensitive to environmental needs even in the construction stage.

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