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Pune residents organise silent protest to keep axed banyan tree’s roots ‘alive’

Around 50 residents, including students, joined the silent protest in front of the remains of the banyan tree to ensure that the civic body does not remove the remains of the truck and the roots, which covers a huge area around tree.

pune Updated: Nov 02, 2017 16:14 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
Environmentalist and residents protest against the felling of trees at University Circle in Pune on November 1. (Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)

Residents of the area around the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) took out a silent protest march this morning to stop the civic authorities from uprooting the stump and roots of the 150-year old banyan tree that was cut down two days ago.

The tree was cut to make way for the bus rapid transport system (BRTS).

Tree officer, zone 2, Dayanand Ghadge, had assured citizens, through an order passed on November 1 2017, that old trees, like the 150-year-old tree cut down, as well as native trees of Pune, like Vad, Peepal and Nandurki, will not be felled anymore.

A letter from Ghadge, cites a high court order in a public interest litigation case, that Ficus Benghalensis, commonly known as the Indian banyan tree, will not be felled. The letter has been sent to the road department.

Around 50 residents, including students, joined the silent protest in front of the remains of the banyan tree. This was in response to local MLA Vijay Kale’s orders to clear the trunk and remains of the tree.

Residents, activists and environmentalists tied red ribbons as a sign of protest to the roots of what was once the banyan tree.

Architect Makarand Shende, a member of Green Pune, asked road department head Rajendra Raut for legal documents which gave them permission to cut what he reffered to as “heritage trees”. “We had requested that the heritage tree shouldn't be cut. So then, it has to be given in writing citing a reason,” Shende said.

Dr Anupam Saraph, said, “When you demolished this tree, you demolished a magnificent banyan tree. There aren’t many banyan trees in Pune anymore. This is the heritage of Pune. It signifies the wisdom that the university transmits to society at large. At a different level, this problem has to be viewed on a larger and global scale.”

“This kind of abrasive behaviour from PMC should never be tolerated by Pune residents. Cutting down heritage trees with no public hearing nor notice is against the Maharashtra Tree Act rule,” said Swapna Narayan.

First Published: Nov 02, 2017 15:53 IST