Follow the trail at Bhimashankar

With the start of a walking safari by the forest dept, tourists can now explore the lush green forests of the region
Bhimashankar in Pune dis trict, famous for its Shiva temple, where hundreds of tourists throng to offer their prayers, also possesses lush green forests, which remain unexplored by visitors. In an attempt to attract people to this region, the forest department has for the first time started a walking safari the same way safaris on a jeep have gained popularity in many tiger reserves. Sunil Limaye, chief conservator of forests, Pune Wildlife Division, said, “So far, tourists have visited the temple or a few trekking enthusiasts have been interested in going for hikes but, others who don’t trek have not been exploring the forest that much. Therefore, this is an attempt to show them what this forest is like. We will have four trails spanning across two, four, six and 10 kilometres so that people have options. A guide will accompany them to show the tourists around and also watch over them.“The forest is known for its flagship species Indian Giant Squirrel, which is frequently seen in the area. Besides, the forest is also home to deer, hyenas and a few leopards. In addition, numerous interesting flora, including medicinal plants, can be found in this forest. These walking trails will also have information boards, which will be put up after the rainy season.

“In the initial stages, the locals who know Marathi will be able to dispense information in the language. For English, people will have to rely on the boards which will contain detailed facts. Later on, these guides can be trained to speak in English as well. We have set up tents in Ahupe village where tourists can stay for now but, they will have to register at our centre for going on the trails,“ Limaye added.

Environmentalists working in the field of ecotourism are of the opinion that this effort will not only help in monitoring the forest, but also engage locals in conservation since it can generate a livelihood for them. “It is very important to have such trails or else people illegally enter certain areas with malicious intentions. The only ferocious animals there are some Leopards, which have never attacked people in a group,“ said Anirudh Chaoji, director of Pugmarks, a wildlife and adventure company.

Echoing the same, Shekhar Nanajkar of Wild Outdoors, an organisation promoting adventure tourism, said, “At present, the area is frequented, not for nature but religious tourism. In such ventures, the forest management plays a major role through strict monitoring to ensure no laws are broken.“

Source : Mirror

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Squad to keep tab on illegal constructions

PMRDA chief Mahesh Zagade said, “Acting against illegal constructions will be our priority. Elaborate steps have been planned to ensure construc ions are controlled and allowed only with proper permissions.“

Zagade said the squad will consist of officers and policemen. “The squad will ook into cases and will serve notices to owners of illegal constructions. If required, the PMRDA may also outsource the work of issuing notices and get feedback. In addition, to stop registration of illegal constructions, the PMRDA is also planning to approach the department of registration and stamps,“ he said.

The PMRDA also will launch a website which will display latest informa tion on building permissions issued and also a list of illegal constructions in the region. Information pertaining to commencement certificate of any construction will be available on the site.

Zagade said the PMRDA has so far given building permissions in 918 cases.Zagade said he has approached the district administration seeking a list of illegal constructions identified in the PMRDA region.

The district administration had taken up a survey of illegal constructions around Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad.There are about 70,000 constructions that are partly illegal. It has sought more details from ownersbuilders concerned. The administration is still scrutinizing the replies received.
Source : TOI

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PMC admits they have no survey detailing numerous encroachments on hills across city,no action plan in case calamities occur this monsoon

Out of the total 243.84 sq km area in the city,8.41 per cent is covered with hills and hill slopes,across Parvati,Bhamburda,Chatuhshrungi,and Panchgaon,including Yerwada,Ramtekdi,Bibwewadi,Warje,and Ambegaon.Interestingly,the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) administration has no figures when it comes to encroachment on these areas.However,the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Mashal,along with the PMCs Slum Development department have a combined 2011 survey of slums around the city,which estimate around 21,000 slums located in these hilly areas.This,however,does not include any information on illegal constructions,only slum tenements,all of which are vulnerable to calamities in case of heavy rainfall.
Vivek Kharvadkar,additional city engineer of the Building Permission and Control department,said,We have not yet conducted a proper survey on hill tops and slopes.However,we are continuously taking action against illegal constructions in the city,which also includes those on hill tops and slopes.The hills had already been encroached upon around 10-15 years ago.We are helpless when it comes to these old encroachments.However,we take action on new encroachments in these areas.
Executive engineer of the Building Permission and Control department Rajendra Raut said,We have taken action on more than 2,000 illegal structures so far over the last two years,specially in the Sutardara,Ramtekdi,Katraj,and Bibvewadi areas.As far as I know,we have knocked down at least four to five structures in each of these areas.For our demolition drives,there is no separate hill top and slope category.We have to collect specific information on these,which should take two-three days.
The maximum hilly areas are located in the 23 villages that are to be merged with Pune according to the most recent Development Plan (DP).Despite the fact that PMC has officially put bio-diversity reservation on these hills,the hill tops and hill slopes are still being encroached upon by slums.
The State government has absolved responsibility,asking the civic body to take care of its bio-diversity parks (BDP) on its own,while asking them to carry out an anti-encroachment drives to clear BDP land.A State official told Mirror on condition of anonymity,PMC officials have told the State that it is difficult to protect BDPs as they do not have the mechanisms and human resources to do so.
Deputy Municipal Commissioner of the Slum Development department D P More said,The State government has declared illegal slums as legal under the Slum Act of 1966.If we have to rehabilitate residents of slums on hill tops and slope who have legal status,we will have to include them in the house allotment policy under Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) and Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) schemes.However,we dont have enough housing units under these schemes.Another thing,is that PMC has given priority to home allotment under SRA and BSUP for residents of slums along the riverside,nullahs,and PMC-project and road-widening projectaffected people.
Source : Pune Mirror 12.06.2013
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Save Vetal Tekdi..!!

The draft Development Plan for Pune 2007-2027 had the following proposals in store for the Tekdi –

Three roads – two on the Law College hill, from Paud Phata to Senapati Bapat Rd and one from Panchavati/NCL up to the top near the Quarry An amusement park at the top, somewhere in or near the Quarry Two tunnels connecting Gokhalenagar to Kothrud and to Panchavati.

All these have been planned quite arbitrarily without any Environmental Impact Assessments, Detailed Project Reports or Traffic studies. If implemented, it will mean the end of the tekdi as we know it. Developers and contractors have been hovering over this prime piece of land like vultures for years and this DP has given them a golden opportunity to sweep in. It is up to those of us who cherish the peace and serenity of the tekdi to protect it from this rapacious ‘development’ which will inevitably bring with it vehicular traffic,
noise, pollution, littering, encroachment by hawkers and safety issues.

Citizens of Pune have the right to file suggestions or objections to the DP. The last date for submission of the letters is 26th April 2013.
What you can do?
1.      Download and print the letter http://bit.ly/tekdi_objectionletter
2.      Collect as many signatures as you can on it (names and detailed addresses must be written clearly)
3.      Submit the signed letter(s) to Room 110, 1st Floor, PMC building before 26th April

If you are not currently in Pune, what you can do is-
Please copy the text of the letter to the email addresses mentioned below. Emails may not count for the whole campaign but these emails ARE read.
pmcmco@gmail.com
prashant.waghmare@punecorporation.org
pmctpo@rediffmail.com

Every signature makes a difference!
Please spread the word.

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Native Flora on talajai

Pune and Bhamburda forest department  is now planning to replace exotic plants on Talajai hill by native flora. They are planning to plant  native trees  like Azadirachta indica (Neem),ficus religiosa (Peepal), Banyan tree (vad), Syzygium cumini(Jaamun) , Mangifera indica (Mango), Tamarindus indica (Imali) on hill. Previously they have planted all exotic Species like Gliricidia (undirmar), Australian acacia (subabhul) which are unable to attract birds and other native fauna. But these exotic trees has inhibited  growth of native flora. Monoculture of these exotic trees has resulted into loss of diversity in this particular area. Some exoctic species were planted to improve the quality of soil on hills. Forest department is planning to plant native trees on 1 acre per year.

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Ban on Pet Dogs

Several citizens going for morning and evening walks on hills have complained about pet dogs causing trouble for walkers as the owners let them free. Citizens complained that people often leave their pet dogs unchained, resulting in the canines wandering around the hill. Citizens have complained about dogs barking at passersby and sometimes fighting among each other. Citizens have also said that dogs excrete on the hills and dirty the walkway. Hence, the forest department is planning to ban people from bringing pet dogs to hills in Pune.
Rajendra Kadam, deputy conservator of forest, said “We have already installed boards on all hills in Pune requesting citizens not to bring pet dogs to the hills as it causes inconvenience to others. Despite this, some of them still bring their pets to the hills. Hence, we may be forced to enforce the ban. According to the Forest Protection Act, citizens are not allowed to enter protected areas of the forest. However, as most of the hills are situated in the core city limits, we have granted permission to citizens without any restrictions. Over the past few years, the practice of bringing pet dogs on the hills has also increased. None of the public gardens run by the Pune Municipal Corporation allow pets inside the garden. Hence, the forest department may also think on similar lines and ban pets on hills.”
Forest department have asked the pet owners to give in writing to the forest department that their pets will not create any irritation on the hill and that they will not unchain the dog nor allow them to roam free.

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Taljai’s greenery in critical

Since last 1 month, there were several instances when PMC (Pune Municipal Corporation) dumped Cuttings of plants on the Taljai hill. These dried plant materials have been burned by Puneties near Thube bungalow. It may leads to charring of other trees on hill to death and also in huge forest fire.
Nature lovers claimed that even though, there is no legal Garbage depot on Taljai hill, PMC workers dumped   garbage at this place. The PMC has provided for dumping of tree waste in P.L. Deshpande and Peshave garden but still cleaners dump these waste materials everywhere on hill.
Balasaheb chavhan, from garden department said that Plant material was dumped only during Ganesh festival.  They also claimed that local people used to burn these materials and not PMC workers.
Are people are not aware about green cover depletion is big problem before Pune and such activities add more chaos?

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