Pune: Concerns Raised Over PMC’s Tree Plantation Plans Amid Urbanisation and Environmental Impact


Pune: In a bid to rejuvenate the Mula-Mutha river banks, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has unveiled ambitious plans under the Mula-Mutha River Bank Conservation, Revitalization, and Beautification Scheme. However, the project has sparked concerns among environmentalists due to the challenges posed by rapid urbanisation and the potential impact on existing land spaces.

With a whopping allocation of five crores, the PMC has initiated the tender process for planting new trees along the river banks, aiming to enhance the city’s green cover. However, experts are questioning the feasibility of the project as the city grapples with shrinking spaces for tree plantations amidst ongoing urban development.

According to reports submitted to the State Environmental Assessment Impact Results Authority, the scheme is set to affect 22,150 trees in the green belt along the river. Out of these, 11,000 trees face the axe, while an equal number are slated for replantation. The PMC has pledged to plant a total of 30,000 trees to mitigate the environmental impact of the project.

The proposal highlights the challenges posed by the Maharashtra Conservation Act, which mandates the planting of additional trees to compensate for those lost during development projects. However, the scarcity of available land for replantation raises questions about the practicality of fulfilling these requirements.

Acknowledging the scarcity of land for tree plantations, the PMC has reached out to the Forest Department, urging them to allocate at least 200 hectares of land for the initiative. While potential sites such as the wasteland of Uruli Devachi and forested areas on surrounding hills are available, concerns persist over the adequacy of land to meet the planting demands.

The Mula-Mutha river bank conservation project, modelled after the successful Sabarmati river initiative in Gujarat, aims to revitalise the 44 km stretch of the riverbed at a cost of five thousand crores. Despite the commendable scope of the project, it faces scrutiny from environmentalists and organisations in the city, who have voiced concerns over its ecological impact.

Many environmentalists have raised doubts over the efficacy of the tree plantation programme, citing contradictions in the PMC’s tender process. The environmentalists spelled out the possibility of potential wastage of the allocated funds and called for the immediate cancellation of the tender process to reassess the project’s environmental implications.

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