Locals, activists hold sit-in fast to protect Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in Pune
PUNE: Members of ‘Save Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary’ and residents of Kalyani nagar held a sit-in fast to protest the dumping of rubble and debris at the Dr Salim Ali bird sanctuary till such time the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) authorities took cognisance of the problem. The half-day protest was planned by ‘Save Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary’ and saw nearly 200 people join the fast at different times of the day. Deputy leader of the Shiv Sena, Sachin Ahir, visited the site along with local leaders including the local MLA. Additional commissioner Kunal Khemnar and his team from the PMC also visited the site and were taken for a quick tour of the sanctuary.
Ornithologist Dharmaraj Patil said, “The area is visited by 110 local and migratory birds, or more. Even today, a large number of ornithologists came to study them. We showed them the birds and the many illegal things taking place at the sanctuary. Ahir assured action to protect the sanctuary and directed the PMC team as well. He also assured that he would take the land dispute matter to the environment minister.”
Joining the group via video call was actor-turned-environmental activist Sayaji Shinde who tried to understand the reason behind the protest. Patil said, “This is quite a fruitful day in the life of the sanctuary and we hope that an Aarey-like decision will be taken in favour of the Dr Salim Ali sanctuary as well,” Patil said.
Satya Natarajan, member of ‘Save Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary’, said, “The Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in Yerawada has been a victim of the apathy of administrative authorities for many years. In such a large area of 22 acre adjacent to Pune city, some people with unholy intentions have been working towards destroying the green belt rich in trees and biodiversity. In the past two years, a large number of trees have been axed, debris and rubble from nearby construction sites has been thrown inside, and even the trees transplanted by the Maha Metro have been killed.”
Meghana Baphna, member of ‘Save Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary’ and resident of Kalyani nagar, said, “There are a lot of illegal activities underway such as dumping construction debris in the natural stream passing through the sanctuary. Ahir suggested that the commissioner lodge an FIR against such activities. The commissioner too has promised proper action against the perpetrators of illegal dumping in the sanctuary. Further damage to the sanctuary will have to be stopped with immediate effect. We will be discussing further with officials in Mumbai and mapping a concrete plan to save this beautiful oasis in the heart of the city and prevent it from becoming a dump yard. Our immediate demands are clean up every bit of debris in the sanctuary, let the nullah flow freely and remove every obstacle in its natural flow, maintain a gate to the sanctuary to disallow dump trucks from entering, and have security for the area.”