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June 02, 2023 - On May 31, the NGT bench in Pune issued directives to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC ) not to cut down or relocate trees on the Riverfront Development Project (RFD) until requisite permissions are procured.
Media reports have highlighted citizens’ opposition to the PMC’s plan to fell over 7000 trees for the (RFD) project to beautify an 85 Km stretch.
A decision was taken by the NGT bench of judicial members Dinesh Kumar Singh and Vijay Kulkarni on Wednesday on a plea filed by environmental activists Sarang Yadwadkar and Pushkar Kulkarni against the proposed felling of around 7000 trees for the Rs. 6000 crore project by PMC.
Advocate Nisha Chavan, PMC’s Chief Legal Officer, said, “We presented our side before the NGT, saying that our proposal to the appropriate authority seeking permission is pending. So, PMC will not cut any trees until July 31”. According to NGT’s directions, PMC will submit a detailed affidavit within two weeks.
According to Yadwadkar, one of the petitioners, who was present at the hearing said, the NGT came down heavily on the PMC, saying, “If it’s stated in the Detailed Project Report (DPR), then not a single tree will be cut for the RFD Project”. “If the environmental clearance also mentions that no tree is to be cut, why are you cutting trees?”
Fifty citizens were present during the hearing arranged by the PMC in the first week of May over the proposal to cut down over 7000 matured native trees in the riparian forest(s) of the Mula-Mutha river stretch. The civic body received over 200 objections and suggestions.
Environmentalists have been dissenting against the RFD Project, alleging that PMC’s action is detrimental to nature by cutting down trees. Several citizens and activists also held a ‘Chipko Andolan” on April 29 to protest the move by PMC.
Work has already commenced on two sections of the stretch. PMC commissioner Vikram Kumar on Monday said that the top wall as a part of embankment work is nearing completion on a 6 Km stretch, and pitching work is in progress.