Old Pune-Mumbai Highway Widening Results in Over 266 Trees Being Chopped

Old Khadki , Pune Mumbai highway
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Khadki, 3rd April 2023: Over 266 trees, including many fully grown ones, are being chopped down to widen a stretch of the old Pune-Mumbai highway, further reducing green cover in the city. Officials claim that they will replant old trees and add saplings to compensate for the loss, but citizens and nature lovers are sceptical.

The 2.2-km stretch of the old Pune-Mumbai highway from Khadki railway station to Maharashtra State Central Hatchery Chowk witnesses frequent traffic jams due to the narrow carriage width. The road is being widened, resulting in the felling of around 266 trees.

Local residents are expressing concern about the replanting process and are doubtful that the claimed 100 trees will be successfully replanted. The area falls within the Khadki Cantonment Board (KCB) limits, but the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the Defence Estate Officer (DEO) are jointly monitoring the work.

Citizens and environmentalists have demanded that new plantations follow government rules, and the DEO has stated that replantation will be done appropriately on defence land.

Dinkar Gojare, executive engineer at PMC, stated that around 100 trees would be replanted on defence land, which is to be identified by the DEO. The PMC has already started work on a drainage and stormwater line along the stretch and has also sanctioned Rs 85 crore for a 42-meter wide cement concrete road along with the bus rapid transit system (BRTS) lanes on either side. Additionally, the PMC plans to plant 1,300 trees on the defence land.

Robin Baleja, CEO of KCB, said that the stretch falls under the Defense Estate jurisdiction, and the KCB does not manage it. A senior official from the DEO stated that the Local Military Authority (LMA) would decide the defence land plots for tree planting.

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