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Armed with Rs 2.94 cr fund, forest dept to continue building protection walls despite public opposition

NGOs and citizen groups have criticised Pune forest department for cutting down several trees for the construction of wall around Vetal tekdi in June this year.

pune Updated: Sep 28, 2018 16:57 IST
Ashish Phadnis
Ashish Phadnis
Hindustan Times, Pune
Forest,Vetal tekdi,Hills
There is hardly any fencing left for the forest land at Mohammadwadi in Pune. Forest department plans to build protection walls around forest areas. (HT PHOTO)

PUNE Even though the previous work of building construction wall around Vetal tekdi (hill) faced severe criticism from NGOs and citizen groups as the Pune forest department had cut down several trees for the construction purpose in June this year, the department is determined to continue with the project.

As per the latest government resolution (GR) issued by the forest department on September 24, a total fund of Rs 1,56,67,000 has been sanctioned to build protection walls in Bhamburda (Survey No 81), Hingne (Survey No 17) and Pachgaon Parvati (Survey No 95), and a separated fund of Rs 49,77,000 for Warje (Survey No 120) is also sanctioned. Along with Pune, a separate fund of Rs 88,18,000 has been sanctioned for a protection wall to be built around Bhamchandra Hill, Chakan.

When asked about the protest by citizens at Vetal tekdi, Mahesh Bhavsar, Pune’s assistant conservator of forest, said that building a protection wall was the need of the hour to stop encroachment and preserve the biodiversity of the hills.

“We are going by the guidelines set by the forest department. Most of the trees which were cut while constructing the wall were of exotic species. They were not allowing any native species to grow around the areas. So, we have been cutting down those trees and replacing it with the native species. The citizens are only creating havoc for the cutting of trees, but, in fact, this replacement of native trees is essential,” Bhavsar said.

“Secondly, we haven’t restricted any citizen to enter the hills. In fact, by building the protection wall, we have managed to curb the illegal trespassing, encroachment and vehicle traffic in the area. This will be a crucial step if we consider the next 10 years,” he added.

The forest area in Parvati, Kothrud, Bhamburda, Bawdhan Khurd, Mhalunge, Khadki, Hingne Budhruk and Warje comes under Bhamburda range, while Wanowrie, Hadapsar, Pisoli, Kharadi, Vadgaonsheri, Undri, Kondhwa, Mohammadwadi, Dhayari, Kondhwa Budhruk, Mandewadi and Katraj come under the Pune range.

First Published: Sep 28, 2018 16:56 IST