Pune: Environmentalists in Pune have raised concerns over illegal activities taking place in the Mhatoba hill area near New India School at Bhusari colony in Kothrud. The activities include cutting down and setting fire to trees, damaging the grass and trees, and illegal plotting. The area is known for its lush greenery and is frequented by people for exercise and relaxation. Despite being designated as Green Zone 2, these activities have been raising alarms among environmentalists.
Srikant Pawar, member of Green Hills and Vanachari group, has complained about the activities taking place in the area, stating that they pose a threat to the natural resources and the environment of the region. He has been actively working to prevent encroachment and damage to the hills in the Kothrud, Warje, and Bavdhan divisions of Pune.
To address the issue, environmentalist groups plan to meet at Thorat Udyan, on Sunday, March 5, to share information, create awareness, and collectively solve major issues. Many environment lovers from Kothrud, Warje, Bavdhan and nearby divisions are expected to attend the meeting.
On Friday, February 24, Satish Shinde, the Chief Engineer of the Construction Department of PMC inspected the hill and the situation. The engineers requested the department to file a criminal FIR and put up information boards on the hills stating Bio-Diversity Park (BDP) reservation, prohibition of any kind of construction. They also requested a survey report from the tree enumeration department, which is expected to be submitted by February 28.
“We are fighting against this encroachment for the last three years to save the hills. One of the main reasons is to create awareness and tell people the importance of hills. As due to encroachment activities and burning of trees, the number of trees are getting reduced and we know how difficult it is to plant trees,” said Shrikant Pawar.
Mandar Garud added, “From seven years the nature lovers are planting trees on this hill, but a few people have encroached the area. Although the part of the land comes under forest department while the slope is private property, it is not allowed to do any kind of construction there. Yet few people are digging it. We complained about this to the PMC and will also have a meeting with nature lovers.”
The Green Valley Group has raised their concern over these activities and demanded an immediate investigation along with action against the culprits. The group also submitted a complaint to the Pune Municipal Commissioner. Pawar, along with other environmentalists, has been providing documents such as hill maps, photographs of burnt trees and forests, and excavation photographs to the park department. The counting of hundreds of trees planted on the hill has also been done. Pawar submitted a written statement and a copy of the deed to Pune Municipal Corporation Commissioner Vikram Kumar, who assured him that the matter would be investigated and action would be taken.