Save the Vetal Hill: Thousands of Trees will be Cut for building the new Tunnel

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Devendra Fadnavis
Chief Minister of Maharashtra

Dear Mr. Fadnavis,

Pune is the only city in India which boasts of a long hill range, right in its middle, reserved for a biodiversity park.The Pune BDP (Bio Diversity Park) was a progressive, visionary and pro-active idea aimed at positioning Pune as a model city with a large green cover of the BDP serving as a carbon sink and an oxygen generator. It is meant to assure citizens of a balanced and healthy environment for generations to come.

The BDP hills are home to a wide variety of flora, birds, reptiles, insects, rabbits and have several water bodies that hold rain water and recharge the water table for many adjoining parts of the city. Many citizen groups are active in different parts of these hills in greening efforts and they have protected, planted, nurtured and grown thousands of trees on the hills. They still spend several hours of their time as well as their own money in taking care of the trees and have successfully converted large chunks of barren land into native forest.

The experiment in growing a forest based on the Miyawaki model (on the Panchavati side of these hills) has been inspirational to organization like Alaap which are now working hand in hand with the government in creating forest patches in the denuded slopes of the Kumaon Himalayas.

Are we going to let all these citizen-led initiatives go?

Vehicular pollution has shot up in the city in recent years. During such a time, the local government needs to take measures for reducing the pollution to ensure health for citizens. However, they are planning quite the opposite. They are proposing to build roads and dig tunnels through the lungs of the city i.e. our hills. It is now common knowledge from studies all over the world that indiscriminate road building and road widening has not solved vehicular traffic problems. On the contrary, it has encouraged more vehicles to come on the roads. What can help is solid public transport such as metros with a robust feeder system of buses.

Once the roads and tunnels are built by Pune Municipal Corporation, it will not be long before the hills will be converted to commercial and residential properties and all the flora, biodiversity and water bodies will be lost forever. The people of Pune and the State of Mahrashtra will be the losers. Mahrashtra would have lost a golden opportunity to set an example for other cities in India and abroad.

Dear Mr. Fadnavis, please help us stop this disaster from happening. We request you to instruct authorities to leave the hills of Pune untouched. Please direct concerned authorities to concentrate their energy and our resources in improving public transport for Pune city instead of destroying the pride of Pune and Maharashtra – our hills.

Concerned Pune Citizens