PUNE: Tree activists have appealed to citizens to send a ‘get well soon’ message to BJP MLA Vijay Kale after learning that Kale had ordered cutting down of the old banyan trees at the entrance of Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU).
To protest against his decision a protest march would be taken out by social activists and tree lovers at the University gate. They have also organised a protest march on Wednesday, November 1 at University Circle gate from 9 to 10 am. The activists have appealed to citizens to save at least one heritage tree left on the University Road. They will be tying a red band on the trees which were axed to protest against the tree cutting act.
Vaishali Patkar, an environmentalist, said, “Kale ordered the road contractor to cut all the trees near the compound wall of the university. Now, we are appealing to all citizens to send Kale ‘get well soon’ notes and not to take such actions in the future as they destroy the heritage of the city.”
Patkar added, “If he is elected by the people, then how can he act against them and take decisions arbitrarily. No notices or public hearings were made before cutting the trees.”
Shilpa Bhosale, Tree Authority Committee Member, said, “The priority of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has changed. We are focusing on building roads instead of giving priority to saving trees.”
However, BJP MLA Vijay Kale said that the old banyan tree will not be axed as it comes under the premises of University and the trees which were axed on the wee hours of Sunday will be uprooted in next two days, for road widening work. He added, “PMC has passed the tender of Rs 120 crore for the development of road from India Meteorological Department to Rajiv Gandhi flyover, and the road has to be widened for motor-vehicle lane and Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS)lanes.“
WAR OF WORDS
- In a Moholla committee meeting, Kale said he does not have any knowledge about technicalities of the tree felling and road widening proposal. If such a statement has been given by Kale in the meeting, then how can he take decisions to cut the trees to widen the road, said Ranjeet Gadgil, a city environmentalist.
- Kale added, “The environmentalist shouldn’t have made this an issue as in Moholla committee meetings the road widening issues have been made clear to the citizens and if they had problems related to this issue they should come and discuss alternatives. I have no problem in answering the queries of the citizens on this issue, but the issue must not be given negative publicity. The work is done according to the DP that is decided by the PMC.”