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Pune residents on how government plans depleted its biodiversity

Leading residents raise flags over environmental degradation

pune Updated: Feb 22, 2018 16:24 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,biodiversity,Government plans
Environmentalists said that rampant dumping of construction debris in river was going unchecked in the city.(HT PHOTO)

The destruction of Pune’s environment is a negative impact that government agencies, policies and projects are undeniably having on the city.

A number of leading citizens of Pune, including industrialists Anu Aga, MP, Arun Firodia and NCP’s Rajya Sabha MP Vandana Chavan, joined 50 environmentalists and concerned citizens at the Firodia Hall of Fergusson college on Tuesday, to discuss this impact of the various government projects and policies on the city.

The construction of affordable housing in green zones/no development zones, re-drawing of the flood line; complete disregard for dumping of construction debris in the river and construction of official quarters in a portion of Empress gardens are among the decisions that have raised red flags.

Besides Aga, Chavan and Firodia, those present at the gathering were citizen-activists Sujit Patawardhan, Ranjit Gadgil, Gautam Indani, Satish Khot; architects and urban planners Sarang Yadwadkar and Aneeta Benninger.

“The very first issue was the GR of the Maharashtra government that is to allow construction of affordable housing on green zone/ No development zones. It was discussed that although we support the need of affordable housing as 40 per cent of the population in Pune is residing in slums, we strongly object to any construction of such activity on any green or no development zone,” explained Sarang Yadwadkar.

“In the latest DP, as finalised by the state government, they have shifted the flood lines towards the centre of river thus converting part of no development zone into development zone. This will facilitate and encourage construction or dumping in the river bed, resulting reduction in the flood carrying capacity of the rivers, increasing the risk of floods,” he said.

Yadwadkar pointed out that a case has already been filed against this with the national green tribunal (NGT).

Shaileja Deshpande said that the “mammoth dumping of debris at the confluence of the Ramnadi and Mula river on both banks is resulting in the strangulation of the rivers”.

The government’s proposal to construct senior officers and judges’ quarters in the Empress gardens and the de-reservation of the middle park of Dr Salim Ali bird sanctuary in Yerawada has also enraged many environmentalists.

Yadwadkar noted that since Pune city is in the immediate downstream of six dams, with five rivers flowing through the city, the possibility of floods needed to be taken into consideration seriously.

Manish Ghorpade, director and one of the founder members of Jeevitnadi living river foundation Pune said the new projects and policies were bound to impact the quality of life and liveability in the city. He pointed out that the national norm of open space per person in a city of 10 sq ft / person had been reduced in the new DP to just 3 sq ft /person.

First Published: Feb 22, 2018 15:02 IST