Pune: Around 70 representatives and members of the International Association of Lions Club (who are engaged in social services and promote international understanding) organised a protest at the Empress Garden against the government’s decision to construct government quarters and Pune cantonment court on Tuesday. Later, they met District Collector Saurabh Rao, who assured them that no trees will be cut for the construction work.
The organisation wants the authorities to construct quarters and cantonment court at other places, as the government has got several pieces of land.
There is 39.55 acre land in survey no. 500 while there is 10.7 acre land in survey no. 504 in the garden. The government was going to construct a residential complex for its top officials and other offices in survey no 504. But to protect the garden, city-based NGOs and political parties objected to the move of the government. NGOs had also started a signature campaign against the government’s decision.
Supporting this cause, the members of the club came up with an innovative idea. They have taken out screenshots of the land from satellite around the garden area, which is barren and in residential (R) zone. Ramesh Shah, Vice District Governor of the club, said, “More than 1,000 acres of land is still barren and construction could be made over there. We are just asking the government to construct the infrastructure on that piece of land. Empress Garden, being a heritage garden of the city, should not be destroyed but more trees should be planted to increase the area of the garden.”
It was later made clear that the construction proposal was for survey no 504, which is under the Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) as per the land records. While the records mention that survey no. 500 falls under Empress Garden. So according to the records, the construction can be made on the 10.7 acre of land, which falls under survey no 504. The members of the club had a meeting with Pune District Collector Saurabh Rao in the afternoon on the same day.
Suresh Shirke, Chairman of the club, said, “Rao has promised us saying, they will make constructions on the survey no 504 and will not harm any tree of Empress Garden. He has said this verbally, there is no written communication yet from him about the same. Soon he will give us in writing, also we will keep a check once the construction starts.”