Pune Tree Watch, Monthly Report, February 2009
1. Alerts, Action and Campaigns
i) Letter from a German visitor
A visitor from Germany wrote to the group about tree felling the Pune Camp area of the old Banyan trees being legal or not? They no more being an obstacle for the traffic, but there is also the shadow and the air purification by them missing… He writes in his mail that he is a friend of old trees since my childhood, and their value is irreplaceable. Public awareness for the importance of healthy big old trees, particularly needs to improve and old trees are more valuable than the young ones. He has advised PTW to improve its net presence.
ii) Road…Not over my trees
Tasneem has been in touch with a family from Pimpri Chinchwad who called me to help them save the trees in their plot which were being threatened by a road development. The road is being pushed by the local corporators and they want to acquire further land from their (the family’s) property, while they have circumvented the road plans that could have gone through their open fields. The buzz is that there is development/construction proposed there and they want a road. So it is basically like having the cake and eating it too. Tasneem met Mr and Mrs Munj today at the Kalpavriksh office. They were very grateful that because of our intervention they could send in an application objecting to any tree felling in their land, and they came to know of the process. There are two plots and these plots have about 20 odd trees of different varieties -Chandan , Coconut (2 generations old), Phanas, Sitafal.
They have said that they were not involved at all when the road plan was detailed out. Once it got finalized and the markings were made, they came to know.
The properties on the other side stand to reap benefits from the completion, yet they’re not obliged to give up any portion of their land for this purpose. Hence, an unfair burden has been placed on them as their property would be acquired yet again at the cost of the 20 essential trees.
iii) Dhanori Lake
Tasneem recieved a call from the citizens forum to save Dhanori Lake (for more information.. please see http://www.punetreewatch.org) about five trucks full of rubble and mud ready to be dumped in the lake.. some of it was already done. They wanted her to lodge a police complaint which was not possible and they wanted them to stop them as they thought that the PMC Road Dept. was doing it. Tasneem spoke to the driver of one of the trucks. He informed me that someone called Sathe from the PMC asked him to do the needful. The citizens were ready to lodge a police complaint. Tasneem then called Sathe (who is not with the PMC), who said there was some school work and his senior Mr Sanjay Bhonsale from Shiv Sena and ward corporator asked him to dump the rubble here as everyone was doing that!. Tasneem introduced myself as TA member of the PMC and asked him to stop immediately and to take back the trucks informing them that there was a court case and an order in place and violation to this would be in contempt of court and that a police complaint would be lodged. Mr Sathe readily agreed to do the needful which is good. No opposition or hul.
iv) Pune University
This months docket came with an application from the university to remove either completely or transplantation of 400 odd trees for a beautification process. PTW requested members of the group to send as many objection letters protesting against the proposed removal of trees. A number of letters were dispatched to the PMC, also triggering a lot of dialogue and discussion on the issue. Some attended the public hearing that was held.
2. Official Processes
The docket release was shrouded in mystery yet again. PTW was only informed through an alert sent in by another member. This triggered the follow-up of improving the docket with the Pune Municipal Corporation. We sent out a request to members to submit email objections as this is the last date today and also be PRESENT at the HEARING for the same.
ii) Pune University
A site visit was held at the Pune University by the TA members. The history with the university is that they have taken permission for cutting trees before but they have not replaced it with the requisite plantations hereafter (2500).
The TA ascertained that the plantations were not done by going to two spots (Ayurveda garden and the Botany dept.) that they took us to. Yes the plantations, judging from those two places were not complete..We finally met the Vice Chancellor – Narendra Jadhav. At the negotiation table this is what was decided..
a) He withdrew the proposal for road widening
b) promised to complete the plantations that they are to
c) wants to remove some of the Patangi trees (300 or so out of 2000 plus) at the entry point (about 3 kms) to create an evergreen ambience with different species of trees, and a landcsape element, which we think is resonable.
d) the 137 trees or so that were to be transplanted will not be touched.
All the information that we received was reflected at the meeting, incl that Patangi is an IUCN threatened species, and people’s disapproval of the plan. Even the removal of Patangi will not be all of the 300 (appr), we will give permission for selective removal.
The university will give us a letter to this effect and we will be in touch with them for the same.Mr Jadhav thought the trees were coveing the Shivaji Statue and that for it to be visible they needed to cut the patangis. He brought this up repeatedly. There was a point when the “negotiations” were about to fail but we managed to salvage the situation.