Monday Musings: Anu Aga’s clenched fist: Take ownership of your city
Pune has been expanding rapidly but without good planning, open spaces and greenery.Updated: Mar 05, 2018 14:19 IST
On Friday, she was centre stage with a host of other prominent citizens, activists, urban development experts and environmentalists to express concern over the serious threat to the city’s greenery and open spaces.
What has alarmed Aga and others in the city is the brazenness with which the last few clusters of Pune’s green cover are being sought to be destroyed in the name of development.
For example, who in their right senses would ever want to bring down trees and disturb the serenity of the nearly 150 year old Empress Botanical Gardens to construct government bungalows?
On another front, the city’s environmentalists were alarmed with the modifications in the Development Plan which would further endanger the Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Yerawada. Rather than provide adequate protection to preserve this rare and beautiful space, this spot has been allowed to suffer death through neglect. The only hope for the revival of this bird sanctuary now rests on the latest assurance by Pune district collector Saurabh Rao to this newspaper that he will take the necessary steps to protect it.
Aga and her fellow campaigners such as industrialists Arun Firodia and Aarti Kirloskar, environmentalist and MP Vandana Chavan, the urban town planning expert Anita Gokhale Benninger and prominent citizen-activists Satish Khot and Sarang Yadwadkar, are alarmed that the government wants to rush through with a riverfront beautification project which they fear will further endanger the flood lines and ecology of the river.
Another cause of serious concern is the attempt to undo the Biodiversity Zone that was created to protect the hills around Pune city.
A picture of Aga with a clenched fist that this newspaper carried on March 3, is symbolic of a call to the citizens to come together, take ownership of their city, be assertive and protect the green and open spaces that are being threatened by large scale development.
As highlighted by Hindustan Times through its Expanding Pune series of special reports, Pune has been growing furtively on all sides but without good planning for public amenities, open spaces and greenery. Week after week we have been sharply focusing on the newly-emerging suburbs of Pune and their clusters of residential apartment with fancy European and American names.
But other than that, they suffer from poor urban planning, bad solid waste management, pathetic roads and water supply (which is dependent on water tankers) and no gardens, public amenities or public transportation.
While the fringe localities of Pune have been left to their own fate, the PMC and other authorities are possessed with the high denomination Smart City project, Metro Rail and the International Airport, which will, undoubtedly take a heavy toll on the city’s green and open spaces.
Even without these projects, there’s a lot of destruction happening on its own, as for example in the 400 acres of the Savitribai Phule Pune University which is witnessing massive constructions.
The Green Pune Save Pune public forum that has been established to give the citizens a voice in the shaping of their city needs to be strengthened through public participation. It is in that sense that Aga’s clenched fist is symbolic of the voice of the citizens and their right to assert on matters concerning the future of their city.