The sustained efforts of the Telangana Forest Department to revive a 700-year-old ailing Banyan tree in Mahabubnagar has paid off, as the tree is now free of termites and the hanging roots have penetrated the ground.
The Pillalamarri tree, which spans four acres, is a major tourist destination in the state. However, the tree was infested with termites and several of its branches dried and collapsed. The Telangana Forest Department reacted promptly in March last year, cordoning off the tree to the public and attempting to strengthen its roots and ridding it of pests.
As part of the treatment, which involved 'trenching,' authorities dug up the soil near the roots and watered them using chlorpyrifos, a chemical used to eliminate termites. They also constructed pillars to support its huge branches. In one treatment process used to eliminate termites, saline bottles were used to let chlorpyrifos seep into the branches by drilling holes into it.
Speaking to TNM, District Forest Section Officer for Mahabubnagar, Zakir, who is overseeing the operation said, "The progress is really impressive. The hanging roots have penetrated the soil. We assumed that the treatment would take more than a year for such a recovery, but in less than a year, the tree is on the road to recovery." Officials had erected 52 huge pipes filled with soil and manure to help the hanging roots to reach the ground.
Mahabubnagar District Forest Officer, Ch Ganga said, "The treatment of the roots and branches using chlorpyrifos were stopped long back. Presently we're providing strength to the tree by pulverizing the soil, providing supplements like bio pesticides and fertilizers to withstand termites."
He added that the treatment of the tree will be an ongoing process. "We have to take care of the tree regularly. We have to water them regularly and provide the required nutrients."