80K plants die due to lack of water in Kapurthala nursery

Motor supplying water to plants lying defunct for over a year in ‘Gharanta vali Nursery’ near Kanjli Wetlands

80K plants die due to lack of water in Kapurthala nursery

The exterior of the nursery where the plants died. Tribune photos

Tribune News Service

Aparna Banerji

Jalandhar, May 20

On the day the NGT committee expressed concern about the depleting groundwater and the environmental crisis in Kapurthala, another sordid affair sheds light on how serious the authorities actually are about the environment. As many as 80,000 plants died at the ‘Gharanta vali Nursery’ on the Amritsar Road near Kanjli Wetlands in Kapurthala as these were not watered for the last six months.

Saplings which were wilted due to lack of water

Officials say they had been alerting the department on the situation for the last four months. Surreal images of the nursery show thousands of plants kept in long, neat rows wilting out in the sun. Plants meant to be planted by the Forest Department, Kapurthala, during various plantation drives were grafted and prepared at the nursery. These were distributed free among people during various environmental drives. Many were meant to be given to people as well.

Some dried plants at the nursery lie next to the out-of-order handpump. Tribune photos

The nursery had many indigenous and local varieties of plants, including sagwan, mango, jamun, amla, sheesham, arjun, roses, sukhchain, etc.

Most of these plants have now been reduced to a brown ash or soil as they did not get adequate water for sustenance in hot summer. With the motor meant to water the plants lying defunct, no alternate arrangements were made for watering the plants.

While the plants were being watered off and on from the water of Gharanta drain adjoining Kanjli Wetlands, the drain, too, went dry this season. Sources said though the motor at the nursery had stopped working around two years ago, it was not repaired. Owing to the drain running dry, the alternate source of water also could not be arranged. Hence the plants which were earlier being nurtured on and off with either rainwater or drain water fell prey to the hot and dry spell this May.

Notably, it is a government nursery. The nursery authorities, however, said they watered the plants today and hoped to salvage many of them from dying. However, images of the nursery show that this may not be possible.

Prakash Singh, Forest Range Officer, Kapurthala, said, “There was some problem in the motor due to which we could not water the plants. A tractor and a tanker had been used to fetch water from the Gharnata drain. But the drain also dried up this season, so we were left with no other water source.

“An estimate had been sent to the Forest Department for buying a new motor at least four months ago. We arranged water today and the plants were watered. We expect the plants to revive. We are currently pumping water through pipes from underneath the drain. Things will go back to normal when the motor pump arrives.”


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