Objection to proposed “HCMTR” on Vetal Tekdi

The following objection has been raised by DGPS to the proposed “HCMTR” on Vetal Tekdi (Previous letters written to the Forest Department regarding HCMTR can be seen at the following link http://dgpspune.com/?p=1695)

To

The Deputy Director

Town Planning Dept

No. 74/2, Sarang Society

Sahakar Nagar, Pune 411001

Subject: Objection and Suggestion to DP Proposal of Objection to HCMTR (EP -166)

Reference: Drawing Sector No. II to VI Sheet No. 5 DRAFT DEVELOPMENT PLAN (2007-2027) FOR OLD PMC LMIT OF PUNE MUNICIPAL CORPORATION SUBSTANTIAL MODIFICATIONS PUBLISHED BY THE GOVT. OF MAHARASHTRA U/S 31 (1) OF MRTP ACT 1966 vide Notice Nos.

  • TPS-1815/209/CR-69/15/DP-PUNE/E.P. Published/UD-13, Dtd 05/01/2017
  • 2) TPS-1815/209/CR-69/15/DP-PUNE/Corrigendum/UD-13, Dtd 09/01/2017
  • TPS-1815/209/CR-69/15/DP-PUNE/Corrigendum/UD-13, Dtd 01/03/2017

Dear Sir,

We, the residents of Pune, would like to bring to your notice our objections and suggestion regarding the above mentioned DP proposal EP-166, HCMTR or High Capacity Mass Transit Route. We would like to state as follows:

  1. As sanctioned in the 1987 Development Plan, the HCMTR stands for the High Capacity Mass Transit Route proposed along 34 km length as a 24m wide access-controlled public transport only ring road, to be used only for operating the mass transportation system. This route was planned to be developed to operate the rapid bus transport and rail based rapid transit system and the alignment had been designed accordingly to suit the operation of a rail-based system for Pune city as it existed in 1987.

Pune city has changed dramatically since 1987, yet the route of the HCMTR has remained the same in the present DP 2007-2027, with no consideration for changed traffic flows and future growth of the city.

  1. As sanctioned in the 1987 Development Plan, the HCMTR was meant to be developed to operate the rapid bus transport system initially and converted progressively later to operate the higher capacity systems, such as the trolleys, trams, monorail and finally the rail based rapid transit system. Hence the HCMTR was to be connected to existing or proposed road network only at selected interchange points.

However, as per the Pre-Feasibility Report for the HCMTR dated December 2016, the proposed HCMTR will be a six lane road with two lanes for BRTS and FOUR lanes for PRIVATE VEHICLES INCLUDING PASSENGER CARS AND TWO WHEELERS. There are 66 roads connected to the proposed route now. The objective of restricting the route to mass transport is not being adhered to.

  1. The proposed HCMTR will take up 7.1805 hectares of Reserved Forest Land in Pune city. It will cut a 22 metre wide 6 lane road through almost 2 kilometres of (1990 metres) of Forest Land on Vetal Tekdi between the Passport Office on Senapati Bapat Road and Paud Road. As per the judgement of the Bombay High Court in the matter of PIL 156 of 2006, regarding construction by the PMC of a road between Bal Bharati and Paud Phata : a) The doctrine of public trust? enjoins upon the Government to protect the? ?resources for the enjoyment of the general public, rather than to permit their use for private ownership or commercial exploitation to satisfy the greed of a few; b)As per Article 48A The Constitution of India: Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wild life The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of the country and c) Section 63 of the MMC Act lays down the mandatory duties of the MunicipalClause 1(b) of section 63 reads thus: ??It shall be incumbent on the Corporation to make reasonable and adequate provision, by any means or measures which it is lawfully competent to it, to use or to take, for urban forestry, protection of the environment and promotion of ecological aspects.

Thus, the mandatory duty of a Municipal Corporation is to make adequate provision for urban forestry, and promotion of ecological aspects. This implies conducting a thorough Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of any planned road project, which has not been done so far.

  1. The proposed HCMTR intersects forest land at 5 different locations: Bopodi – 0.1656 hectares; Bhamburda- 1.1659 hectares; Wanavadi- 2.3594 hectares; Hadapsar- 1.9411 hectares and Mundhwa- Forest Land 1.5485. At Bhamburda, the route passes along the east facing slope of the hill popularly known as Law College Hill, behind the Balbharati buildings, Bhandarkar Institute Campus and Law College Campus. The slope is thickly forested.  The Reserve Forest land along this segment falls within survey numbers 94 and 95. The route continues along the hill slope behind Law College Campus which falls in survey number 53. The entire hill slope has been afforested under the Green Pune Initiative and is a today a lush man made forest.

Any construction activity on this hill slope will result in the cutting of hundreds of trees and will disturb the rich biodiversity of the area which is documented by several studies.

The HCMTR route will destroy significant section of hill slopes and will result in the cutting down of hundreds to possibly thousands of trees, damaging forever the natural landscape of the city along with the rich urban biodiversity residing on these hill slopes and forest tracts.

  1. The Pune Municipal Corporation has in its possession only 21% of the 68.03 hectares needed for the HCMTR project. The scope of the Feasibility Report being prepared by STUP consultants does NOT include land acquisition costs or issues. In the absence of full land acquisition and clearances from Defence, Railways, Airports Authority of India etc, the HCMTR project will be pushed through in piecemeal fashion, defeating the original intention once again and destroying valuable bio resources for no real gain.

We therefore submit that before making any proposal for construction or modification of roads/HCMTR on forest land, a detailed project report and Environmental Impact Assessment by a competent authority are vital. Unless a proper study is made by the Committee of Experts, it cannot be held that the destruction of the forest for the construction of the proposed road is in public interest, and is for a public good.

We take the opportunity to reiterate that Art 51A (7) of our Constitution specifies that the fundamental duties of the citizens is ‘to protect and improve the natural environment including the forests, lakes, rivers, wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures’.

As citizens, we request you to kindly take lessons from the case of the proposed Paud Phata – Bal Bharati road, and ensure that the PMC does not fritter away our meagre financial resources by engaging in the construction of roads like the HCMTR, without complying with Constitutional norms.

Regards,

Deccan Gymkhana Parisar Samiti