The state government’s approval to the Pune Municipal Corporation’s decision to reserve biodiversity parks (BDPs) on hilltops/hill slopes in the newly merged 23 villages will give the city an additional green cover of 978.54 hectares spread on seven hills in 12 villages. The move, point out environmentalists, civic activists and politicians, is in the larger interest of a “Green Pune”.
The civic body had proposed the reservation in its development plan sent to the government. The 978.54 hectares, on which the reservation is spread, comprises 124.45 hectares of government land and 853.09 hectares in private ownership.
The state government had recently passed the development plan of the 23 fringe villages, and had kept the decision on BDPs on hold. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had announced formation of a special committee to look into the matter under the chairmanship of B K Jain, who is dean of Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), to study the contentious issue of BDPs. The committee had recommended to make the reservation of BDPs permanent by giving the land owners transfer of development rights (TDR) in lieu of their land. Those who give land in the first year would be given additional TDR. Around 74 hectares with old constructions would be excluded from the reservation.
Describing it an environment-friendly move, civic activist Vijay Kumbhar said: “On over 900 hectares of land on hilltop/hill slopes, there will be no construction. This is a great piece of news for Puneites who are grappling with increasing concrete jungle.”
“Almost all recommendations of the Jain Committee have been approved. This will be a major boost for green city,” said Deepak Bidkar, convenor, Save Pune Hills Initiative.
Vandana Chavan, MP and green activist, said, “The battle for BDPs was a long drawn one. The decision had been pending for the last six years. The decision was absolutely in favour of the city and especially for the future generation. The speed at which urbanisation is increasing, if we don’t do anything we are heading for a major disaster. It is a happy coincidence that the decision has come when the International Biodiversity Year is being celebrated.”
Satish Khot of National Society for Clean Cities said, “We the Puneites have managed to save our hills. This is a result of the pro-active stance the citizens took and the efforts we made to make our voice heard. We all convinced the rulers