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Baner hill in Pune to be named after the Green who transformed it

Late Dr Chandrakant Garudkar and residents began planting trees on the hill from 2006

pune Updated: Mar 07, 2018 15:14 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,MAHARASHTRA,Baner hill
For the past 11 years, Dr Garudkar Vasundhara Abhiyan is working for biodiversity conservation and restoration of Baner hill with group meetings on Sundays for two hours. The group has planted more than 11,000 native trees so far.(HT PHOTO)

A small group of people joined hands in 2006 to plant saplings at Tukai hill, popularly known as Baner hill. More than a decade later Baner hills, to be named as Chandrakant Garudkar biodiversity park, has been developed into lush green cover

The hill was a cattle grazing ground for the villagers of Baner for years before development began. According to environmentalists, rapid urbanisation and utilisation of land for projects is the main reason for the depleting green cover. According to a survey, Pune district has lost 26 sqkm of forest cover since 2015 and this has put saving biodiversity on a priority with many environmentalists and environment groups.

One such group that began work on Tukai hill in 2006 is Dr Garudkar Vasundhara Abhiyan and it has seen tremendous change in biodiversity in the area. “It was all a barren hill, where villagers would bring their cattle to graze. There was only one banyan tree near the slope then,” said Shankar Tahmane, local resident of Banergaon. “We would walk with one pot from the village to the hill to water the sapling,” said Tahmane.

Dr Chandrakant Garudkar, a general physician who passed away in 2014, along with a few local residents began planting trees when he realised that the tree cover would slowly be lost in the upcoming development. Beginning slowly, the local group have covered survey no 7 and survey 49 (1) of hill with trees. The group has increased and has more than 700 volunteers covering 210 acres of hilly area from Baner to Pashan.

Dr Garudkar, Nitin Kalamkar, Mahesh Narke, Shrinivas Kher felt that to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, many trees are needed. Hence, after holding several discussions, the group started with tree plantation.

From the past 11 years, Dr Garudkar Vasundhara Abhiyan is working for biodiversity conservation and restoration of Baner hill with group meetings on Sundays for two hours. “We have planted more than 11,000 native trees so far. The group, all volunteers, have constructed 85,000 feet of continues contour trenches (CCT) along the hill which stores 20 million litres water in every season,” said Dr Kusum Garudkar, wife of late Dr Garudkar who was passionate about trees and increasing the green cover.

Chetna Gaikwad, who works with Tata Consultancy Services and was by chance a part of corporate social responsibilities (CSR) activity in 2010 that became a part of Baner hill conservation, was impressed by the work carried out to conserve the biodiversity of hills. “The effect of this consistent work helped in transforming the barren hill of Baner into green diverse forest with more than 70 species of birds and 55 species of herbaceous flowers, butterflies. Water table in surrounding areas has also increased considerably. Every year, we plant 1,500 trees,” Gaikwad said.

Monali Shah, architect, joined the Abhiyaan in 2013. “I am a nature lover and was studying botany and ecology. I always wanted to dedicate my life for nature conservation. So I quit my job to dedicate my life for nature conservation. The conservation efforts have helped increase the hill’s soil layer.”

IN HONOUR OF

Late Dr Chandrakant Garudkar (HT PHOTO)

Dr Chandrakant Garudkar was founder member of the conservation work. To honour his noble work towards increasing the green cover of Baner hill, the hill is being named as “Dr. Chandrakant Garudkar Biodiversity Park” in his memory. Padma Shri Dr Prakash Baba Amte and Dr Mandakini Prakash Amte will be the chief guests at the ceremony to be held on March 10 at Baner hill.

Depleting green cover

1. Geographical area of Pune 15,643 sqkm

2. 32% reduction in forest cover as compared to 2015

3. Urbanisation is eating into the greenery in Pune district which has lost 26 sqkm of forest cover in two years.

First Published: Mar 07, 2018 15:14 IST