February 20, 2017 6:13:49 am
Members of the Area Sabha Association of Pune (ASAP) attended a hearing by Pune Municipal Commissioner Kunal Kumar on Saturday on the felling of 29 trees on University Road. The main points of discussion included the inability to implement the Maharashtra Preservation and Protection of Trees Act, 1975, and the incessant cutting of trees — some even 100 years old — in the name of development.
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As per the members of ASAP, no action has yet been undertaken for re-plantation. Swapna Narayan, an active participant of ASAP, said, “Despite us submitting a letter on August 30, 2016, and have been following through since, there has been no improvement or response. The only way to fulfil the Prime Minister’s commitment to reduce carbon intensity by 30 per cent, is doubling the tree cover of Pune every year through putting a stay on all tree felling until the Tree Act, 1975, is implemented and to ensure a Decongestion Policy for the city.”
Members of ASAP have been rallying against this decision, through letters addressed to the PMC, the chief minister as well as the Prime Minister. A protest was also carried out on January 14, which saw participation by over 250 people.
During the meeting, Narayan questioned the authorities, saying, “In the last meeting, we were assured that almost 1,000 trees would be planted in the next 15 days, yet there was no action. How is it that there is no money to acquire land to implement the development plan, but thousands of crores are dedicated for projects, such as BRTS, Metro system, stone water drains and other fancy projects?”
Focusing on the 29 trees proposed to be felled on University Road, Kumar said, “We will make sure 78 trees are planted in their place. According to a survey conducted under the Smart City Programme, majority of residents voted for mobility as a higher priority. There needs to be a balance, we are improving public transport to reduce carbon emissions. We have urban city planners and developers and experts who enable us to take decisions, as residents, you need to have faith in us. The BRT system began a year back and any good city needs seven to eight years to show results.”
Unhappy and unsatisfied with the meeting’s outcome, the present members of ASAP have decided to hold another meeting and even stage a protest, if required. “If the Tree Act is implemented we will support every development decision. They can’t tag as anti-development because we are fighting for breathing space,” said Narayan.
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