With the National Green Tribunal (NGT) showing serious concern about an old Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) circular to allow 15 per cent construction in its green lungs, the civic body may no longer construct permanent structures in playgrounds and gardens. In fact, PMC has stopped disputed construction of a ‘natural recreation centre’ at Sambhaji Garden, while waiting for the final NGT order.
At Monday’s general body meeting, corporators raised questions about the matter, after the issue of renting out community halls to a social organisation in the Late Aruna Asaf Ali Garden in Market Yard came up. While answering, additional municipal commissioner Rajendra Jagtap said, “For constructions in gardens, a former municipal commissioner had passed circular in 1999 allowing a 15 per cent allotment. However, litigation was filed with NGT against the ongoing construction at Sambhaji Garden earlier this year. Last week, NGT passed an order taking objection to the circular. While we do not have a final written order yet, we have stopped the aforementioned construction.”
He added, “We are awaiting a final word from the NGT. It will clear our doubts as to whether the order is only for Sambhaji Garden or applicable to all city gardens.”
Spread over seven acres, Sambhaji Garden already houses a garden department administration building on its premises. Besides, PMC had started constructing a 1,300 square feet building as a natural recreation centre last year, after a nod from the building permission department.
Retired officer Ravindra Gore had filed the said litigation in NGT against PMC on February 18 this year, after which an interim order was passed by the body on the matter on April 13, as an oral judgment in open court. PMC was also ordered to shell out Rs 25,000 to the applicant as litigation costs.
Gore in his litigation had mentioned, “Public gardens play an important role in keeping the environment clean and serve as lungs for the city. Their role is therefore crucial from the point of view of maintaining biodiversity and ecological balance in urban areas. Keeping these in natural condition as open spaces is in consonance with provisions of articles 21, 48-A and 51-A (g) of the Constitution. Under the provisions of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act, 1949, protection of the environment and promotion of ecological aspects is the obligatory duty of a civic body. However, the latter has allowed permanent construction in gardens to make theme parks with theatres, stages, auditoriums, jogging tracks, administrative buildings, etc. This is in contravention of the law.”