Greens attack CM's plan to allow construction in BDPs

Environmentalists say allowing 4% construction in bio-diversity parks will mean robbing hills in and around city of green cover, denying residents clean air; Sena, NCP, BJP, MNS also flay idea

Environmentalists have strongly opposed Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's plan to allow 4 per cent construction in the proposed bio-diversity parks (BDP) in the city. The Chief Minister, who also heads the Urban Development Department, said at a party function held at Congress Bhavan on Monday that he would back the proposal to allow 4 per cent construction on hilltops and hill slopes to promote development of the green belt in and around the city. He also promised to approve the extended Development Plan of 23 villages soon. Vinod Jain, a noted tree lover, objected to the idea expressed by the Chief Minister, saying the move would amount officially allowing encroachment on green zones.

For love of Nature: A bio-diversity park on Paud Road. The park was
created by the PMC with the help of Nisargasevak, an environment group.
File pic

"Our hills are already facing major problems because of encroachments and the CM is making this official by allowing 4 per cent construction on hilltops and hill slopes in the green zone in the city," he said. "When the Ministry of Environment and Forests had promised funds for keeping the city hills green, then how can the CM make such a statement?"

Political move
Sunil Joshi, a noted environmentalist and journalist, described the CM's announcement as an out-and-out politically motivated move in view of the upcoming civic election. "BDPs are reserved on hilltops and slopes, and hills are the lungs of Pune. The 4 per cent reservation for construction may become 400 per cent in future as it shall be beneficial for the builder lobby. Construction may destroy hills and the pollution-free life of Punekars," he said.

"Before taking any further action, we are also studying whether it is a bill to be presented in the coming Winter Session or an ordinance that has already been issued." Besides the environmentalists, the Shiv Sena, BJP, NCP and MNS also objected to the CM's idea yesterday.

Breach of trust
Anupam Saraf, coordinator, Jal Biradari, who has fought a long battle against the illegal construction around Dev Nadi in Baner, said the declaration by the CM was nothing but a breach of citizens' trusts. "It is really strange and shocking that the CM, who has competed his education in science and technology in the US, should announce this," he said. "The city is already not getting adequate water to drink, there is absence of uninterrupted power supply, and an efficient drainage system is lacking. Now there will also not be enough clean air because the CM is promoting construction on hills."

RTI activist backs CM's idea
SUDHIR Kulkarni, an RTI activist from Nagri Hakka Samiti, welcomed the idea proposed by CM Prithviraj Chavan, saying allowing 4 per cent construction on the hills with certain riders to preserve greenery could help promote tree plantation on the hilltops and hill slopes. "Allowing construction with the condition of protecting nature can serve the purpose of promoting and protecting the green zone on city hills," he said.

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