It was an incensed yet a driving Sunday morning in one of the by-lanes of Bharat Nagar in the city. A set of messages seeking public support were circulated on social media the previous night. By noon, about 100 citizens stood tall to save one of the last biodiversity hotspots of the city — a lush green patch of land that is about to be sacrificed for a new road, the need of which remains highly questionable.
Housewives, businessmen, environmentalists, octogenarians and kids walked briskly to the ‘meeting point’ near a dairy shop. At stake are around 200 old-growth trees on the land owned by Dr Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV). As reported by TOI, the road was initially planned as an alternative route when MahaMetro shuts down the stretch along Futala Lake for redevelopment.
The already opposing residents turned more rebellious after MahaMetro dropped plans to close the Futala road, thus eliminating the need for an alternative route.
In a first-of-its-kind protest meet, residents came together in the hope of saving the patch that they christened ‘Bharat Van’. In an echo of Chipko movement, men, women and children protectively hugged the trees indicating their resolve not to let them go.
The Sunday meeting saw a flurry of activities. It started with a address by Jaydeep Das, Nagpur’s honorary wildlife warden and a livelihood expert. “The civic authorities have failed in realising the importance of this green patch. Assurances of transplanting trees given by MahaMetro are unrealistic,” he said.
Nagpur bench of Bombay high court has taken cognizance of a letter written by Das, highlighting the environmental damage that would be caused by the project. The message was loud and clear: “We are not against development but environmental terrorism.”
“This area has many protected species of birds and animals as well,” said Anirudh Chaoji, director of environment NGO Ran Mangli.
Green activist Shrikant Deshpande said the government should declare the land as ‘reserve forest’. “If the road is constructed, the remaining part of the green cover will also get damaged by encroachment and trespassing,” he said.
Blaming the agencies for taking a “completely illogical decision”, residents demanded the road should be justified with scientific evidence. “Neither there has been an environment impact assessment, nor a traffic survey that can prove the road is or will be required in coming years.,” they asked.
Sunday’s meeting will probably turn out to be the beginning of a more aggressive fight.
SAVING ‘BHARAT VAN’: As many as 100 residents of Bharat Nagar, including housewives, businessmen, environmentalists, octogenarians and children, stood tall to save one of the last biodiversity hotspots of Nagpur on Sunday. A green activist said that the state government should declare the land as a ‘reserve forest’