Work on a water pipeline was stopped when residents of Law College Road realised that work was resumed despite a garden department notice to stop the work for cutting severaltrees.
When MiD DAY contacted officers at the Water Distribution Department, some said that they had no knowledge of the notice, or of trees being cut or even that the work had restarted. The pipeline is being laid on Senapati Road and at least 25 trees have been cut despite a high court ban.
The work was stopped after several activists approached the garden department and pointed out the gross violation a month ago. Residents of Deccan Gymkhana Parisar Samiti, a local citizen group, complained when it was realised that PMC had cut portion of Vetal tekadi while connecting the pipeline to SNDT water supply centre.
Dr Sushma Date and other residents approached the garden department. Date said that she informed the garden department and work was stopped on Sunday. Mohan Dhere, tree officer of garden department, told MiD DAY, “The water distribution department lacked the permission to cut trees. They were supposed to submit the work plan to us. We will carry out a survey and approach high court for permission after that is done.”
Date said, “Around 25 trees have been cut among them some 7 to 8-year-old trees. Moreover, saplings were destroyed as debris was dumped on the hill.”
Amey Jagtap, an environmentalist, said, “The way the hill is dug up shows that many trees were cut.” When contacted, V G Kulkarni, an officer with the water distribution department, asked us to contact Ramachandra Adhari incharge of SNDT water distribution centre.
When Adhari was contacted, he said that he had no knowledge of a notice being issued and directed this reporter to his subordinate. The officer, who was reluctant to share his name, expressed shock when MiD DAY informed him that the work had resumed.
Finally, an officer, who requested anonymity, asked us to contact Rajendra Thorat, a junior engineer supervising the work. Thorat explained that on Sunday the workers were clearing the pipelines and that they had not resumed the work. He said, “We have cut bushes, not trees. We will continue the work only after getting the high court’s permission.”
He denied charges that the department was laying the foundation for the Balbharati –Paud road passing through the hills.