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Assam Floods Ravage 207-year-old Banyan Tree, Erosion in Kaldia River Poses New Threat

Devotees worhiping near the banyan tree in Bajali. (News18)

Devotees worhiping near the banyan tree in Bajali. (News18)

Ironically, this could be the last couple of birthdays left for the centurion Banyan as the flood this year has been harsh and has submerged the grand banyan up to a considerable extent.

Standing tall at about 155 meters from the ground and spread over five bighas, this World Environment Day locals of Bajali, celebrated the 207th birthday of this Banyan tree. A few experts claim that the tree is the second oldest in the continent.

Ironically, this could be the last couple of birthdays left for the centurion Banyan as the flood this year has been harsh and has submerged the grand banyan up to a considerable extent

However, the flood water has receded but a more grievous concern for the conservators has emerged. The serious erosion by the turbulent Kaldia River, on the banks of which the Banyana stands is now threatening the existence of the tree.

“More than one bigha of the land on which the banyan stands has been eroded. If things go on like this then soon the soil on which this historical tree stands will slip out, resulting in the sinking of grand Banyan.” said Jatin Das, President, Jalikata Kolibari Shiv temple.

Seasonal floods have caused much massive damage to the tree. “Researchers and tourists come to see the Banyan and its expanse. It not only holds botanical importance but symbolizes the innate bonding between humans and trees which eventually leads to conservation” said Bhaskar Kalita Secretary, Jalikata Kolibari Shiv temple. The locals also hold a strong religious bond with this tree as people from all over the state visit the temple and worship this tree during Shiv Chaturdashi. Earlier, even the priest of the temple staged protests for the conservation of the Banyan.

Located at Jalikhata village of Bajali subdivision in Barpeta district, the tree is in dire need of conservation. ” We have submitted several memorandum to the authorities and even to the Chief Minister. Governor of the state, Shri Jagdish Mukhi visited the tree and assured required assistance. Unfortunately not much has been done except for a few concrete porcupines to change the course of the Kaldia river. This too did not yield a result” added Das.

"The tree is not only important from the conservation point of view but also due to the traditional beliefs. The authorities should take proper steps to save the tree at any cost," said Mridul Talikdar of Assam Jatiyabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad, Bajali.

India has been home to humongous and century-old banyan trees, some of them are:

Thimmamma Marrimanu

Thimmamma Marrimanu of Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, also sometimes called as the Old Banyan tree is the largest banyan tree in the world and holds a Guinness record for it.

Kabirvad

The Kabirvad Banyan tree is located on a small river island near Bharuch in Gujarat. The locals associate it with the saint Kabir and there is a temple built on his name under the tree.

The Great Banyan tree

Located in Kolkata, It is said that the tree is more than 250 years old and has seen quite a lot of history unfold before it.

Adyar Banyan Tree

The Giant Banyan tree in Adyar, Chennai happens to be located in the middle of the theosophical society and is yet another one of the huge banyan trees of the country spread out through 40,000 square feet.

first published:August 19, 2020, 11:49 IST