Saturday, March 3, 2018

Prominent citizens launch movement for green Pune


PUNE: Citizens on Friday launched a movementto to save the city’s environment while coming down heavily on the recent decisions taken by the state government and the civic body.

The decisions like the proposed use of land of Empress Botanical Garden for construction, de-reserving of plots from the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, implementation of riverfront development project by reducing flood lines, allowing roads inside blue and red floodlines and nod to constructions in no development and green zones will adversely impact the environment, MP Vandana Chavan, MP Anu Aga, industrialist Arun Firodia, urban planner Aneeta Gokhale-Benninger, honorary secretary of Empress Botanical Garden Suresh Pingle and activist Sarang Yadvadkar said in a joint news conference.

Demanding that these decisions must be revoked, they sought citizens’ support for the movement, under which a signature campaign will be run across the city. To garner the citizens’ support, a dedicated website (, a Facebook page and also a dedicated telephone number (020-71177161) have been launched.

MP Chavan alleged that the government has repeatedly taken anti-environment stand in the last one year. “The state government’s delay in declaring compensation for Bio Diversity Park (BDP)-affected people is leading to problems. The encroachments are spreading in the areas, which are supposed to be kept free of concrete structures. The state should resolve the issue of compensation as soon as possible,” Chavan added.

Firodia emphasised on saving maximum trees in the city. “The trees play a crucial role in providing oxygen. We need to initiate steps to ensure better environment for people,” he said while expressing concern on the rising cases of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and malaria.

Activist Yadvadkar said the government resolution (GR) has allowed construction of affordable houses in no-development and green zones. The river floodlines in the development plan have been pushed inside by 25-50 metres. “These decisions will allow construction in the prohibited zones,” he said.

On the Empress Botanical Garden land, Pingle said the district collector and other government agencies have been eyeing the 6-acre plot out of 32 acre to construct PWD offices, complexes for judges and a court building. “Though the said land belongs to the state government, it is in our possession as per the contract. If the government needs this land, it will have to issue a notice to seek our opinion before reaching to any decision,” he said.

Meanwhile, Satish Khot of the National Society for Clean Cities said two plots from the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary have been de-reserved for no reason. “The move is illogical and will destroy the sanctuary,” he added.

The prominent citizens who have support of 10-15 non-governmental organisations, also raised the issue of green spaces in the city. “Against the required 5,600 hectares of green spaces, the city has not even 3,000 hectares of such spaces presently. And even these spaces are now being threatened. There are attempts of land monetization, which will adversely impact the environment and of us all,” urban planner Gokhale-Benninger said.

They all plan to meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to discuss these issues.


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