On Saturday April 29, hundreds of activists in Maharashtra’s Pune city staged the ‘Chalo Chipko’ agitation, a protest against the felling of trees for the ambitious Pune River Front Development project. The protesters carried placards and shouted slogans to save the river, trees, and the city. During the agitation held on Saturday, the protesters carried placards, shouted slogans to save the river, trees and the city .
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has been accused of destroying natural greenery along the riverbank near Bund Garden for the River Rejuvenation Project. The activists allege that a few thousand trees, including some rare and old trees, are being cut down for a one-kilometer stretch of the riverfront.
The ‘Chalo Chipko’ agitation was aimed at highlighting the importance of trees and the need to protect them. The activists hugged trees and tied green ribbons around them to mark their protest. They called on the PMC to reconsider its decision and find alternative ways to develop the riverfront without destroying the natural greenery.
The PMC, however, has refuted the claims made by the activists. It stated that there are no old and rare trees among the trees that would be affected by the development project. The PMC has assured that it will take all necessary steps to ensure the development is done in an eco-friendly manner and that adequate measures will be taken to compensate for the trees that are being cut down.
NGO’s, environmentalists, nature lovers, social activists, politicians and citizens walked approximately 1.5 km from the main gate of Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje Garden towards the riverside road.
The ‘Chalo Chipko’ agitation has drawn attention to the need for sustainable development that does not harm the environment. The activists hope that their protest will lead to a constructive dialogue between the PMC and citizens to find a way forward that benefits both the city and the environment.
PMC officials issued a press statement in which they stated, “Citizens are being misled. The number of trees taken down is not 6,000. While PMC is cutting bushes, the number of actual trees has increased, but these are not old trees. The PMC intended to replace 3,142 greens and we have even planned to plant about 65,000 trees along the Mula and Mutha riverbeds.”
” On Saturday in Pune, thousands of environment-loving citizens took to the streets against the killing of 6000 trees in the river basin. A large number of AAP Pune activists and office bearers participated in this movement. Citizens held the Chipko protest by hugging the riverside trees. For this” – Dr. Abhijit More, AAP Pune district sanghatana mantri.
” In regards to tree cutting, PMC is not giving accurate information. There is a distinction between asking for permission to take down trees and actually doing it. This project is being carried out hastily by the PMC without consideration for the environment” said Priyadarshini Karve, the organiser of ‘Chipko Aandolan’.