‘Friendly’ replacements for Noida’s harmful Alstonias

Plantation

The Horticulture department of Noida has decided to put the plantation of Alstonia scholaris trees on hold for now. Reason: the tree, due to its particular smell, can cause problems for asthma patients, believe officials. Considering the effects of the tree on such patients, the department has decided to plant Lagerstroemia instead.

According to officials, Alstonia Scholaris — commonly called Blackboard tree or the Indian Devil tree — would be replaced by trees that don't affect people. "If asthma patients stand near the tree for a longer time, they could develop breathing problems. We want to make the city people and environment friendly. The effort is to plant trees like Indian rosewood (Sheeshum), Jambul, White fig and Cassia Fistula-Amaltas," said the official.

As per the department records, there are around five lakh Alstonia trees in Noida, planted on the lines of trees at Rajghat. The then CEO N S Chaudhary, in 1982, approved the plantation of Alstonia tree in Sector 15. "Around 70 trees were planted in the first phase in Sector-15 that time," said a senior official of the department.

A few years ago, however, the department realised that the tree causes problems for asthma patients.

Officials believe that Lagerstroemia has emerged as a better choice to keep the area green as it would release more oxygen and is environment-friendly. At present, the city has around 50,000 such trees. "We will try to plant more these Lagerstroemia trees, also popularly known as Pride of India. The tree looks beautiful in winters as it bears pink flowers," added the official.

Besides Alstonia Scholaris, many other trees like Eucalyptus would also be discouraged. "Eucalyptus is planted mainly for commercial purposes. There are already a few hectares of eucalyptus plantation in the city. We believe this tree is not required in the city anymore," added the official.

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