Covering beri tree may disturb birds habitat

The existence of the ancient tree is under threat as the SGPC has put up a steel frame around it without consulting experts. A marble frame has already been constructed around lower portion of the tree to preserve the memory of Baba Budha, the first Head Granthi of Darbar Sahib who used to supervise the construction of the Sikh shrine. The iron frame is also obstructing the view of the Golden Temple.

This is being done at a time when the SGPC has been making allout efforts to get the Golden Temple declared as world heritage site by UNESCO.

Mr Major Singh, manager, Darbar Sahib, however, claimed that experts were consulted before making efforts to preserve the tree. He said the existence of the tree was under threat and experts from Punjab Agricultural University had started visiting the Golden Temple for organic treatment against insects. He said the fibre glass was being put up to save 'parikarma' from droppings of the birds.

However, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, former SGPC secretary, said that in his capacity as Coordinator, NSS, Guru Nanak Dev University, had made the first-ever attempt to save the ancient three 'beri trees' in the Golden Temple complex about two decades ago. He said he had sought the services of Dr Khem Singh Gill, the then Vice-Chancellor, PAU, who had deputed a high-level team for preserving the tree. He, however, said that loading the tree with tonnes of iron frame and fibre glass would definitely disturb the natural habitat of sparrows. He said Sikhism was compatible to the environment and ecology and hence many Sikh shrines were named after trees.

Dr Suresh Chauhan, nature expert, said that the efforts of the SGPC to cover the lower portion of the tree with fibre glass would adversely affect the air pressure too. He said there was need to lessen the weight rather. Dr Chauhan said that engulfing of tree with iron and electric tubes would adversely affect its health.

Dr Bachan said that in 1986 he had persuaded the radical Sikhs, who were in full control of Darbar Sahib, to prune some branches of the tree with a view to lessening its weight. The experts had also helped in sprouting 'beri' at the root level.

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