Pune: City’s environment experts highlighted the issues of water conservation, town planning and development and the correlation between climate change and environmental damage in Pune during a panel discussion organised by Pune International Centre (PIC) on the occasion of ‘World Environment Day’.
“Punekars have always tried to support environmental conservation. But in addition to carrying out eco-friendly activities, it is in our own hands to stop things that are harmful to the environment. We need a healthy city instead of a Smart City,” said Sarang Yadwadkar, an architect and environmental activist who leads the struggle against encroachment on the Mula-Mutha riverbeds.
The panel consisted of Dr Neha Bhadbhade, PhD in biosystems and agricultural engineering, Saili Palande-Datar, an archaeologist, ecologist, organic farmer and conservationist, Sarang Yadwadkar, environmental activist and architect, and Ketaki Ghate, Founder, Oikos for Ecological Services.
Together, the panelists highlighted issues in and around Pune. Neha Bhadbhade brought groundwater into focus. “On most roads and in parking spaces, pavement blocks are installed because of which rainwater cannot seep into the soil. In Pune, groundwater recharge can be done easily in many areas such as Bibvewadi, which is important for raising groundwater levels. These areas should be focused upon.”
She added that one must consciously keep track of one’s water footprint and improve one’s water use efficiency. “If we know the production process of each thing we use, we can make informed choices about what to consume. This is one of the best ways we can contribute at an individual level for a sustainable environment,” said Ghate. She said the change needs to come in thinking and from within. Palande-Datar said, “As an organic farmer, I suggest we start growing food ourselves. Growing small amounts of food can have many benefits; it provides nutrition, appeals to our aesthetic sense and contributes to reviving local biodiversity. These are great benefits and if done collectively, can help the city in a big way.”