Nagpur residents form human chain, to protest against tree felling for road construction

[] Thousands of local residents and members of various organisations formed a human chain at Futala Lake in Nagpur, to protest the proposed felling of more than 700 trees in a green belt

Thousands of local residents, members of various organisations and students of colleges and schools, formed a human chain at Futala Lake in Nagpur, on May 1, 2019, as a protest against the proposed felling of more than 700 trees in the Bharat Van area. Bharat Van is a vast green cover, located on a tract of land belonging to the Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV) in the Bharat Nagar area, where construction of a road towards Futala Lake has been proposed. A musical fountain and a viewer gallery at the lake, is also part of the project.

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The Futala Lake beautification scheme, is a dream project of Nagpur MP and union minister Nitin Gadkari. However, around 200 fully-grown trees and around 500 small ones, are expected to be cut for the proposed road towards the lake. Acting on a PIL, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has ordered a stay on the felling of trees for the road. The PIL will come up for further hearing, on May 2, 2019. However, the project is facing resistance from local residents and non-governmental organisations.

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Honorary wildlife warden Nagpur Jaydeep Das, who is spearheading the campaign, said that he had written a letter to the HC on this issue, which was later converted into a PIL. “This particular green cover called Bharat Van is close to Futala Lake wherein, a musical fountain and viewer gallery is proposed on the lake. MahaMetro is executing this project for the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC),” he said. “However, authorities have planned an 18-metre-wide and 0.5-km alternate route to the musical fountain on the lake, for traffic diversion to it,” said Das. He said more than 700 trees, including 200 fully-grown ones, are expected to be cut for this alternate route, destroying a rich ecological habitat, in the heart of the city. “This green cover is home to thousands of trees, some of them 100 years old and also birds and small animals like monkeys and peacocks. The felling of trees will cause a huge damage to the ecological balance here,” said Das. Das said the campaign to save the trees at Bharat Van, has become a people’s movement.

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More than 5,000 people from various walks of life formed a two-km human chain around Futala Lake to save the trees, he said. Environmental activist Anusuya Chhabrani, an active member of the campaign, said, “We all want development but not at the cost of the environment and heritage of Nagpur. We have to protect the green lungs of Nagpur, for the future of the city.” Shashi Kanoria, a resident of Bharat Nagar, said the proposed road was not required at all, as alternative routes already exist in the area. Besides, there is not that much traffic, for which a new route should be constructed by destroying the green patch, Kanoria said.

When contacted, Nagpur Municipal Commissioner Abhijeet Bangar defended the project. He said the matter was in the HC, where the civic body would be filing an affidavit. “The NMC has proposed changes in alignment, in such a way that minimum damage to big trees is caused. Moreover, MahaMetro is going to transplant all affected trees. Transplantation would be done in the same area, so as to preserve the ecological balance. We will act according to directions of the high court,” Bangar said.

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Category: Lifestyle

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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