Pune: Maharashtra State Government Prioritizes Defence Plots Over Civic Amenities, Sparks Concerns Of Urbanization In Cantonments

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Sumit Singh

Pune, 15th February 2024: A recent directive from the Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) of the state government has raised eyebrows, indicating a keen interest in vacant land plots within seven cantonments, including Pune and Khadki, slated for merger with municipal corporation limits.

Activists and citizens are expressing concerns, pointing out that these plots, valued at thousands of crores, are poised to become prime municipal property as the Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to relinquish them at no cost during the proposed merger.

The move has been labeled a ‘lucrative deal’ for the state government, drawing criticism from activists like Rajabhau Chavan, who accuses the government of systematically favoring land developers. Chavan notes that the MoD’s decision to dissolve cantonment boards has given builders and politicians the green light to acquire these coveted land plots officially.

However, this development raises environmental concerns, as the empty plots and green spaces in the cantonments have long served as the ‘lungs’ of Pune. Chavan fears that their transformation into commercial properties could lead to environmental degradation and uncontrolled urbanization, mirroring the fate of other rapidly developing regions in the city.

Chavan comments, “What we have witnessed is unprecedented and uncontrolled growth of construction, and the cantonments will also reach the same destination in due course of time. We will not be surprised to see skyscrapers in the middle of the Pune Camp in the coming years.”

The DMA’s directive to the CEOs of the seven cantonments specifically requests details on land plots suitable for commercial use or leasing post-merger completion. A senior cantonment official acknowledges the real estate significance of these areas, emphasizing that the state government is seeking information for its “development plans.”

Critics argue that the potential transformation of these cantonment areas into commercial hubs could jeopardize their ecological importance and alter Pune’s landscape dramatically.