Pune: Signature Campaign Gains Momentum as 1,586 Oppose Tree Felling in Koregaon Park

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Koregaon Park, 17th January 2024: Residents and environmentalists in Koregaon Park are vehemently opposing the proposed felling of 61 trees as part of the Sadhu Vaswani Bridge reconstruction project.

A signature campaign was launched on January 6, and by the January 15 deadline for objections set by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), over 1,586 residents had expressed their opposition. The objection primarily centers around preserving the ancient banyan trees slated for removal.

Initially, the PMC’s tree department received a proposal from the projects department seeking permission to cut down 161 trees for the bridge reconstruction. After a ground survey, the tree department rejected the request to cut 40 banyan trees, some over a century old, along with a few foxtail palm trees and rain trees, thereby reducing the number to 61.

An official from the tree department stated, “We have objected to cutting down the banyan trees on the stretch. But, depending on the nature of the project, if the department will need to clear them as well, we will have to oblige.”

Members of Pune Samwad, a citizens’ group, submitted their letter of objection to Municipal Commissioner Vikram Kumar. A ground survey on January 12 revealed at least ten banyan trees aged over 100 years and a rain tree marked for felling alongside the approach road of the bridge. These trees were part of the sanctioned 61 trees that were not designated for transplantation.

Residents are demanding a comprehensive presentation of the development plan and justification for cutting the numbered trees. They also observed confusion regarding the numbering of trees on one side, raising concerns about transparency. A hearing is expected next week to address these objections.

Assistant Garden Superintendent Guruswami Tummale clarified, “All the 119 trees were numbered to decide on how many trees needed to be cut. Permission to cut 61 has been granted. The rest will not be touched.”