‘Chalo Chipko’ Protest Planned in Pune Against Tree-Cutting and Environmental Destruction, Activists To Return ‘Paryavaran Doot’ Awards

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Pune, 24th April 2023: Environmental organizations in Pune will return their ‘Paryavaran Doot’ awards to protest against the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) environmentally destructive projects. The organizations have also announced a ‘Chalo Chipko’ protest against riverfront development (RFD) tree-cutting on April 29, 2023, near Sambhaji Park, Deccan Gymkhana, Pune.

According to the activists, PMC is currently destroying natural greenery on the riverbanks near Bund Garden for the ‘River Rejuvenation Project,’ which is being condemned by various organizations and individuals working on environmental issues. Despite PMC’s Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the River Rejuvenation Project claiming that the existing trees along the riverbanks have been accommodated in planning the project, a few thousand trees, including some rare and old trees, are being cut just for a 1 km stretch of the riverfront constructed to showcase the project.

“PMC has stated that compensatory plantation will be undertaken and some of the affected trees may even be transplanted. However, no details are available about the land allotted for this or the timeline planned for the compensatory plantation. Moreover, transplantation has proven to be ineffective with a success rate of less than 30%. The clearing of land on the riverbanks is also destroying habitats and biodiversity of the river ecosystem.”

Thousands of Punekars recently protested the planned roads and tunnels on Vetal Tekdi, which will also irrevocably destroy the hill ecology. The cumulative loss of greenery and biodiversity will be aggravated by climate change, intensifying heatwaves, flooding and causing water scarcity, all of which have been witnessed in Pune over the last many years, they said.

On March 31, 2023, PMC honored environmental organizations for their work under the State Government’s ‘Majhi Vasundhara’ mission. However, the messages that many citizens, including all of the organizations, have sent to PMC objecting to rampant tree-cutting have been totally ignored. In light of this, the environmental organizations find it untenable to keep an environmental award received from the same authority.

To register their protest, the organizations are returning the award given to them by PMC commissioner Vikram Kumar. The organizations are also organizing a ‘public hearing’ on the issue of rampant tree-cutting in the form of a ‘Chalo Chipko’ protest to be carried out on April 29 at 5 pm near Sambhaji Park, Deccan Gymkhana, Pune.

The organizations have appealed to all citizens of Pune to join them for the protest and demand full protection for the natural ecosystems of Pune city and its surroundings.

Those present during the press conference included Rajiv Pandit – Jividha, Oikos- Ketaki Ghate, Sathya Narayan, Ranjit Gadgil Parisar, Dr Gurudas Nulkar, Shailaja Deshpande – Jeevitnadi, Anant Gharat – MY EARTH, Amitav Mallik, Vaishali Patkar and Dr Priyadarshini Karve – Samuchit Enviro.

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