Trees pruned ahead of yatra? CM says not 1 cut
In Karad, branches of trees on Vita road, between Krushna naka and Shivaji stadium, where minister addressed a rally, were chopped according to photographic evidence and eye-witness accounts.Updated: Sep 18, 2019 04:24 IST
From Pune and Satara, to Sangli and Ichalkaranji, local civic authorities cut away a sizeable number of tree branches to make way for chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ vehicle during his ongoing Mahajanadesh yatra, according to at least one tehsildar’s letter issued to local bodies, seen by HT.
“I do not believe any trees were cut, but I will look into it and if even one tree has been cut, I will investigate it,” said Fadnavis, during a press interaction in Pune on Sunday.
In the Karad region of Satara, the tehsildar issued a letter to various local authorities, asking for measures to be taken to ensure the safe passage of “tall vehicles used in the Chief Minister’s mahajanadhesh yatra”.
The letter adds: “Owing to the height of the vehicles and the security of the chief minister, it is necessary to chop branches and fill uneven patches/potholes on his way.”
“Yes, I send letters to concerned departments like police, PWD (public works), MSEDCL, when such an event takes place. I cannot comment on whether such letters are sent by other tehsildars as well,” said Amardeep Wakde, tehsildar of Karad.
Effectively, in Karad, branches of trees on Vita road, between Krushna naka and Shivaji stadium, where the minister addressed a rally, were chopped according to photographic evidence and eye-witness accounts.
In Pune, tree branches, all large in size, were also cut.
“I have been contacted by a few environmental activists. They wanted to file a case immediately, but we are waiting for information regarding the issue. Once we have it, we will go ahead and file a case,” said Advocate Asim Sarode, an environmental activist who has filed several cases pertaining to environmental damage before the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
“People want the chief minister to know that there is degradation of the environment not only because of the cutting of tree branches, but also because of the hoardings. I had dealt with such a case in Thane. Under the order of cutting branches, they cut down trees,” Sarode said.
Vandana Chavan, a Rajya Sabha member from National Congress Party (NCP) and an environmentalist, took to Facebook to complain against the cutting of branches along Sinhagad road.
“This will affect green cover in this city. To make space for the CM’s big vehicle, big branches of these trees, which took time to grow, were cut. And the fallen branches were cleaned up immediately. I have never seen the PMC work so efficiently before,” said Chavan in a Facebook video.
Chavan also alleged that the tree authority of the PMC had not granted permission to carry out the work.
Vilas Athawale, inspector at the ward of the tree authority of Pune, which is responsible for any decision involving trees in the city, said, “We did the work in order to reduce the risk it posed to vehicles passing by. The patch falls under Rajaram road to Dandekar bridge stretch where the footpath is next to invisible. The branches were bent due to heavy foliage. The branches were brushing against the buses and vehicles that pass it by.”
The work, however, was only done on one side of the road which was used by the CM. That, according to Athawale, was merely due to lack of time. “We have carried out similar work in the same time-frame in other parts of the city, including Raja Mantri garden, Gulavni Maharaj road, Warje ward office, and Khilarewadi area on the Mutha riverbed. This decision was not about the CM’s visit.”
In Sangli, the executive engineer of the public works department wasn’t immediately available for comment.
The chief minister’s convoy went through various parts of Sangli including Tasgaon, Palus, Islampur, Kasegaon, Miraj, Karmal area of Sangli before heading to Ichalkaranji area of Kolhapur via Jaysinghpur.
First Published: Sep 17, 2019 20:31 IST