Over 1000 citizens protest at Vetal Tekdi

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Over 1000 Punekars from all over the city came together on Sunday May 1, at Aapla Maruti, Vetal Tekdi to show their concern against PMC’s plans of destruction of our unique natural heritage.

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PMC has planned not one but three destructive projects on Vetal tekdi:

1. Bal Bharati Paud Phata road – surface road on Law College tekdi slope,

2. HCMTR – elevated road on Law College tekdi slope

3. Two tunnels with exits at Sutardara, Panchavati and Gokhale Nagar.

People of all ages, from small children to elderly men and women held colourful posters depicting the various problems that will arise if these projects are implemented.

Youngsters especially have serious concerns as their generation will face the worst impacts of climate change if urban forests and grasslands are replaced by cement and concrete. Pune faces record heat, dwindling water supply, and pressures on health from the Covid pandemic.

Thousands of Punekars have used the tekdi’s open spaces for physical and mental health rejuvenation for generations. The dense forest cover protects us from greater heat.

Vetal Tekdi is one of the three main watershed clusters for Pune’s groundwater, as ACWADAM’s geological research in 2019 recommends a “No compromise protection” of this catchment area. Roads (surface or elevated) and tunnels will damage our city’s groundwater resource.

Concerned citizens from different walks of life stood up to speak about the need for preservation of our natural heritage, about their worries that Pune would increasingly become tanker dependent if precious aquifers in the hills were disrupted. One lady emphasized the fact that building more and more roads would defeat the purpose of the Metro.

Giving the example of the new Nal Stop flyover and the old University flyover, someone spoke about how building more roads and flyovers has never solved traffic issues. A Green Pune Movement organiser played a clip of a recent speech by PM Modi where he says that the only solution to urban traffic congestion is an efficient mass transportation system.

What is the solution for traffic congestion? The National Urban Transport Policy asks cities to encourage use of Metro and bus and discourage use of private vehicles.

The need of the hour is a well connected, frequently plying fleet of low cost A/C buses collaborating with Metro 2 and Metro 3 lines. This will help decongest traffic ALL over Pune and not just Law College road and Nal Stop.

Punekars will continue to put pressure on the PMC to understand these simple facts and stop these destructive projects on Vetal Tekdi.

Organisations in support were Green Pune Movement, Deccan Gymkhana Parisar Samiti, Pashan Area Sabha, Aundh Vikas Mandal, Panchvati Utkarsh Seva Sanstha, Baner Pashan Link Road Vikas Samitee, Association of Nagar Road Citizens Forum, Area Sabha Association of Pune, Save Pune Traffic Movement, Parivartan, Mission Groundwater, Vasundhara Swachata Abhiyan, Devnadi Swachata Abhiyan, Ramnadi Swachata Abhiyan, 51A Group, Jeevitnadi Foundation, Parisar, Kalpavriksha, Warrior Moms and Anandvan Foundation.