Green cess makes activists see red

New Draft National Forest Policy increases environmental budget alright, but proposes to levy another tax to recover money from citizens
As if the Swachh Bharat cess, and drought cess introduced in Maharashtra were not enough, the new draft National For est Policy 2016 is looking at levying a green tax now, with an increase in the budget for the forest sector. Environmentalists are far from amused, saying that though the environment budget needs a boost, the money should not be collected by levying an additional tax on the common people.Dr Vinita Apte, president of Terre Policy Centre that works in the field of environment conservation, rued, “The percolation of the benefits is rarely seen against these taxes paid. The government already has enough funds, but does not choose to use them for environmental causes.When it comes to plantations, money is spent on them, but they might not be looked after properly. Besides, their election campaign talked of a government for the poor. But, this agenda seems to be going against its own promises, for even the poor will have to bear the tax burden. We don’t know if the new draft forest policy will actually benefit us.“

The draft, which was released earlier this week, says that large tracts of forest area have degraded in the country, mainly due to biotic pressure and lack of adequate investment. The policy, which is set to replace the 1988 one, looks at levying environmental cess, green tax, carbon tax and so on for certain products and services to facilitate ecologically responsible behaviour, garnering citizen’s contribution and supplementing financial resources. Among other points, the policy also proposes a National and State Board of Forestry to ensure inter-sectoral convergence and conflict resolution.

So far, the budgetary allocation for environment has been less than even one per cent. But, there are Compensatory Afforestation Funds (CAF) of more than Rs 38,000 crore, which lie pending with the government for the Bill to unlock these is yet to be passed. The government’s present stance towards the environment is already being questioned by green activists. In fact, a green report card by the Centre for Science and Environment had even pointed out the gradual shift of forest governance from peoplecentric to a more industry-centric and technocratic approach.

Madhukar Bachulkar, an environmentalist who took up the cause of saving the Western Ghats, stressed, “It is the industry which is bene fitting from this environment, rather than common man. They are promptly giving out industry clearances for sensitive areas, without thoroughly analysing what is going to harm the environment. Then why not levy these additional taxes on the industries instead of us citizens, since they are actually causing environmental degradation?“ The citizens are equally miffed. “This is nothing but loot. Nothing ever boils down to the ground level. We are paying for the Swachh Bharat cess, but a report has suggested that the focus was more on building toilets. There are many places in our city which have become garbage dumps, with the rain washing all the waste our way,“ complained city-based professional Amit Vipat. Fellow corporate Eshan Sarpotdar added, “We already have a huge tax burden. It is the government which is harming the environment by granting land to builders and industries. So, it makes no sense for us to pay up for it.“ Citizen Satyajeet Baji asked, “Instead of adding another tax, how about spreading environmental awareness among government employees and adoptinf eco-friendly infrastructure?“

Source : Mirror



Action against tree cutting: One month in prison, Rs 5k fine for 5

The municipal court on Wednesday sentenced five persons to a month-long imprisonment and also fined them of Rs 5,000 each for cutting trees without obtaining the requisite permissions from the civic authorities.

On September 11, 2012, several trees included Teak, Mango, Coconut, Lemon and Jamun on the premises of the Dashanam Gosavi Sanstha in Somwar Peth were cut by some people without permission, said municipal prosecutor of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

They said an employee of the PMC’s garden department came to know about the illegal activity and filed a police complaint.

A case was filed against the officials of the organization and they have followed it up to its logical conclusion. They really hope that the punishment will work as a deterrent to others, said tree officer of PMC.

The court has awarded one-month imprisonment to the five persons including, adding that they have also been fined Rs 5,000 each for the act.

They said the main problem with preventing illegal cutting of trees was that people do it with impunity. It is generally believed that you can cut a tree and there will be no consequences. They have decided that from now on they shall be tracking these cases thoroughly.

They said that there are over 60 similar cases pending before the court.

They hope the order today will send a strong message and put an end to the menace of illegal tree cutting.

Source: timesofindia, Mar’14
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Enjoy the magical displays of trees and learn to grow them!!

One more Earth Day has gone. Few more events of tree plantation, some award functions for working for environment and few speeches by influential people about our degrading environment. That’s it! So we have done our bit for nature and till next Earth day, we need not worry about our environment. This is what the entire Earth Day mean to us. But actually, there is much more beyond that..!

Let us try something different this time. Nature presents a kaleidoscope of colours around our lives. As it is summer now, there is a wild burst of colourful flowers and new leaves of various shades of green on trees. It’s the best time to experience the magical displays of trees.  Go and trail round your neighbourhood garden or hill and explore. You will come across eye catching trees such as Palash, Indian coral tree, Amaltas etc. Don’t you want such gorgeous trees to last a long? Then identify such trees and collect seeds in your area. All you have to do is make sure they are the seeds of trees that found naturally or native to the place in which you live. Your one single action gains significance as it grows.

Planting a tree seed is the smallest thing but possibly the grandest gesture you can do today..! Monsoon is all set to arrive. The rain brings new life; especially for trees. This season, seeds are eager to sprout, dreaming to become a tree and trees tend to grow at higher speed.

Just remember and make sure that you plant it where it won’t be causing problem for anyone in future. After all, in a few years we don’t want someone cutting down what you have so carefully sown all those years ago. Planting near your home, on a private land or alongside of the roads might be fair enough.

Doing small things can achieve big things. The very seed you planted in the soil is proof of that. Each one of us has a place and a role to play in the incredible web of life and each one of us can make a difference.

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Depletion of green cover in Pune…!

Recently, a 40 year-old Rain tree and a 25-year old Neem tree were chopped down in Kothrud by a builder. Though the trees were cut with official permission, no one seems to like that. It takes so many years to grow these trees, but takes only a few hours to bring them down. Likewise, 2,578 trees have been cut with official permission in the city in the last three years alone, fast depleting the green cover of the city. Alarmingly, the city has lost 7.24 sq km of vegetated area due to urbanization in the 1999-2009 periods alone. A study conducted by the Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in 2009 showed that day-time temperatures in Pune city during summers had seen a rise after 1991.
– Temperature in summers between 1991-2009 has gone up by 0.5 degrees Celsius.
– March temperatures in same period is up by 0.4 degrees Celsius
– April temperatures in same period is up by 0.9 degrees Celsius
– May temperatures in same period up by 0.2 degrees Celsius

Trees are an inseparable part of our surroundings. But Pune has now become a concrete jungle. Those who cut the trees should make sure that they not only plant 10 other tress but also grow them.

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No place for Plantation? Think..!!!

In today’s Urban Ecosystem it’s the need of the hour to develop ‘Green corners’ wherever you get a place.  But in Pune which is already a concrete jungle we hardly get place to create a green patch or to conserve our native diversity. Hence,In any part of world you live in think about making it green by plantation of more and more trees – they are beautiful and easy to look after as long as you choose the right tree for the right soil and location.


Always utilise the opportunity to plant trees wherever and whenever you get a place. The places like corners in dry balcony, on dumped construction material, Balcony, compound walls, terrace, corridors, duct of building etc can be utilised for plantation. Plantation never needs sophisticated pots, containers or piece of a land we can simply plant a tree in unutilised, recycleable materials like bottles, cans, broken buckets, Pipes, coconut shell, gunny bags, Shoes not in use ,hollow tree trunk and even a broken commode pot can serve as a container to plant a tree…!


Plant a native suitable tree in all  places desired to create your own green corners which can attract various local fauna. In short by planting more trees you can support diversity and can help conserving it.

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Protection of BDP land from encroachment – a big challenge

Pune is surrounded by many hills like Parvati Hill, Chatushringi Hill and Vetal Hill. It is also blessed with many lakes like Pashan, Katraj, Khadakwasla, etc., which add great ecological value.
Nowadays the city is converted into over polluted rapidly expanding mega city. IT and other industries will continue to attract people from elsewhere. This process of development will continue in the future. As a result, green and open areas (agricultural fields) are being converted into residential areas. The current development strategy has to be made more sustainable. The need is to focus attention on restoration and conservation of ecologically sensitive areas in and around the city.
Taking this in consideration, the proposal for reservation of land in merged villages for biodiversity park (BDP) has been passed recently. Now, it has become a stiff challenge for PMC and Punekars protect the open tracks of lands from encroachers. Adequate involvement of people, policy makers and politicians which is most essential for effective management of common resources in the city is shrinking rapidly.
Illegal constructions have been coming up in areas like Anandnagar, Vishrantinagar and Mahadevnagar, which fall under the limits of Hingane Khurd and Wadgaon while slums are coming up in the BDP in other localities. PMC admits that these are temporary measures as they have no permanent mechanism to curb encroachments.
Development of BDP will improve the quality of life in Pune city.

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Endangered species getting more destructed.. !!

HEART disease is a leading cause of death and disability the world over. Several medicinal plants have been described to be beneficial for cardiac ailment in Ayurveda. Arjun (Terminalia arjuna) is the most promising plant among them. It is usually found growing on river banks. The beautiful tree forms spreading canopy and drooping branches with whitish bark. Almost every part (bark, leaves, seeds) of this tree has medicinal properties, with dry bark being in high demand by many pharmaceutical companies to manufacture Ayurvedic medicines like Arjunarishta.
10 years ago, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has planted these trees near Omkareshwar Ghat in Shaniwar Peth. Recently it was observed that 20 Arjuna trees have dried up as people have striped trees for their bark. Such destructive harvesting led to death of the trees.

Heart is important organ for humans likewise bark is important for trees. Bark is a tree’s natural armour and protects from external threats. The tree is medicinally important and ecologically as well. Butterflies such as Redspot, Mylitta feed on these trees. During flowering period the tree is frequently visited by birds, butterflies, bees. Thus, this is the keystone species of ecosystem and it’s listed as ‘Endangered’ by IUCN. We have to conserve the species. It’s true that we need its bark in future. We should harvest the bark sustainably and using scientific methods so that it could regenerate.