Civic body may stop construction work

Monday, 21 January 2019

Officials admitted having skipped environmental assessment study

Pune: The Tree Authority Department of the Pune Municipal Corporation  has skipped environmental impact assessment study before starting the road construction activity at Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. 

The officials of the Tree Authority Department have accepted their fault during the recent meeting held between the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary group and the Tree Authority officials. 

Now, the officials have assured the group that the construction activity will be halted and they will send an official mail to the group listing the action points.

Dharamraj Patil, ornithologist and coordinator of the Save Salim Ali Sanctuary Group, said, “The road was a part of the DP of 1987. But before making any construction and cutting down any trees, the Tree Authority should have conducted an environmental impact assessment study, but they skipped it. During the meeting, the tree authorities were giving very causal answers defending their activity. Also, they had not taken any hearing before cutting down the 167 trees for road construction.”

According to Patil, “The assessment should be done before cutting any trees, as they are a part of the ecology and Bird Sanctuary is a huge biodiversity park, so the assessment was mandatory. This kind of assessment is usually done by calling several experts including flora, fauna and ecology. Assign officers for it, tender the project and process it accordingly. But, this whole process was avoided.”

“We have demanded an exact count of trees, which will be impacted by the construction work in the area. We have also demanded an expert team for the environmental impact assessment. The team will include five members from the residents’ group and officers from the tree authority of Pune Municipal Corporation,” Patil said.

Ganesh Sonune, member-secretary of the Tree Authority Department, said, “The environmental impact assessment study has not been done because the government has not declared the biodiversity park as a sanctuary and it is under private ownership. Now, we have noted all the concerns of the group. We have decided that all the developmental activities and tree cutting will be kept on hold unless and until the time the area gets ecological impact assessment.”

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