Telangana govt.’s ‘modern-organic’ treatment boosts immunity of centuries-old tree
‘Pillalamarri’, the great banyan tree of Telangana, has breathed fresh life and is now back into healthy germination, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Mahabubnagar district administration, whose ‘modern-organic’ treatment boosted the immunity of the centuries-old giant tree.
By taking a new leaf in conservation, the officials demonstrated how the dramatically decaying process of the termite-infested tree can be reversed and put back on the growth path with vegetation all over. As a result, it has now started sprouting new leaves.
It is a phoenix-like moment for this banyan tree, District Collector S. Venkat Rao told The Hindu.
“Micromanagement conservation efforts of the massive banyan tree by the forest officials had yielded great results and it is now put back on the growth trajectory,” he said.
Sprawled over three-and-half acres, the 700-year-old Ficus tree, one of the oldest and largest on the planet, is situated around four km from Mahbubnagar town. With truck-like prop roots growing all over the compound, the officials couldn’t identify the mother root yet.
In December 2017, one of the termite-infested branches of the tree, which was neglected by officials and vandalized by the tourists for decades, came crashing down and a month later the then-District Collector Ronald Rose decided to give a new lease of life to the tree and chalked out action plans in coordination with the officials of the Forest department.
“To contain the termite attack, we sprayed chlorpyrifos on the tree. Starting few months, we sprayed on the branches, and later realized the practice was not effective, as the solution was seeping inside the truck, so we drilled holes into the branches and stem and injected the chlorpyrifos,” District Forest Officer Chukka Ganga Reddy said.
Later, the officials started injecting chlorpyrifos through ‘saline drip’ and the bottles were spread all over.
“As the branches were falling, green shoots were a rarity. But now we can see new leaves, which have a reddish tinge, sprouting at many places, the tree is sending a message of revival,” Mr. Reddy said.
He said that every fortnight they also sprayed ‘Panchagavya’, an organic fertilizer prepared by a mixture of cow dung, urine, curd, and ghee, on the tree to strengthen the roots.
Over 140 prop roots, which were not infected with the white ants, entered the soil, he said, hoping that the tree would survive for a few more centuries.