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| Last Updated:: 01/10/2015

Punjab’s own great banyan cries for conservation




Cholti Kheri (Fatehgarh Sahib): The sprawling banyan in the remote village of Cholti Kheri in Fatehgarh Sahib district could well be the runner-up to the Great Banyan in the Indian Botanic Garden at Kolkata in terms of the area covered by the canopy. The much senior tree of Kolkata, estimated to be more than 1,200 years old, covers an area of 4 km, with the prop roots leading to a chain creating a unique heritage habitat.


Its younger country cousin at Cholti Kheri, believed to be about 200 years old, although locals like to say it is more aged, has also thrown up its canopy over three to four acres of land. A visit to the village on Tuesday finds the gnarled old tree with its mini-forest of thousands of aerial roots touching the ground and new branches spreading at nature’s will. The banyan stands with pristine pride amid lush-green paddy fields.


The banyan is India’s national tree and it has many myths, fables and religious beliefs attached to it. Although colloquially known as ‘bargad’ or ‘borh’, people of Cholti Kheri fondly call it ‘baroti baba’. 


 However, all is not well with the wizened banyan. The Punjab Biodiversity Board (PBB), while calling for biodiversity heritage status for the canopied tree, has also been making demands for its conservation. The PBB has been observing the site for several years and the tree is listed by its Sanskrit name, Kayakalp Vriksh (wish-fulfilment tree). A village biodiversity committee has been constituted with the help of the district administration.



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