Pune: Public Outcry Against Felling of 151 Trees at Ferguson College for Water Tank Installation

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Pune, 6th March 2024: In a collective effort, 377 concerned citizens, represented by #ChaloPMC and Puneसंवाद, including notable individuals Amit Singh, Hema Chari Beehushi, and Chaitanya Ket, have raised objections against the proposed felling of 151 trees at Ferguson College for the installation of water tanks at Hanuman Tekdi. The objections have been formally submitted to Vikram Kumar, Municipal Commissioner, and Administrator of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), who also serves as the Tree Authority Chairman.

The objection letter, dated March 6, 2024, highlights several concerns regarding the tree-cutting proposal submitted by Deputy Engineer (Water Supply Department, PMC). The objections, spearheaded by the citizens and supported by extensive references, call for a reassessment of the project and adherence to established environmental guidelines.

Key objections and concerns raised by the citizens include:

1. Lack of Transparency: The objection letter questions the unavailability of the TreeCensus website (http://treecensus.punecorporation.org/) to the public, hindering the citizens’ ability to assess the actual site of the proposed tree felling.

2. Opposition to Construction on Hanuman Tekdi: Citizens express strong opposition to the construction of proposed water tanks on Hanuman Tekdi, citing a circular from the Government of Maharashtra prohibiting construction on hills. They urge the abandonment of the project due to widespread public resistance.

3. Failure in Tree Replantation: The objection letter raises concerns about the failure to replant trees and fulfill compensation plantation requirements as per PMC’s earlier proposals. Citizens demand transparency in showcasing the replantation efforts and adherence to legal obligations.

4. Alternative Routes: With a large number of trees slated for felling, citizens propose exploring alternative routes to save more trees. They reference the amended Section 8 of the Main Tree Act, emphasizing the submission of alternative designs for projects involving a significant number of tree removals.

5. Lack of Information: Citizens seek detailed information about the proposed site, allocation of funds for replanting and new planting of trees, and adherence to the guidelines outlined by the High Court, Mumbai.

The objection letter concludes with a request for a joint hearing to address the objections, with invitations extended to the citizens and the applicant, Deputy Engineer (Common Water Supply Department, PMC). The citizens request a written resolution of the objections post-hearing.

The citizens’ plea emphasizes the need for transparency, adherence to legal guidelines, and active citizen participation in decisions affecting the city’s green cover. The objection letter has also been copied to relevant authorities for information and necessary action.