Bal Bharati Paud Phata Road: 'An alternative to the problem, ecologically harmful and encouragement to private transport'

Bal Bharati Paud Phata Road: 'An alternative to the problem, ecologically harmful and encouragement to private transport'

“All the developed nations have shown that building more roads is not the solution to cater to the increasing traffic, but we need to strengthen the public transport and push citizens to use it”, activist Sushma Date said.

Manasi Saraf JoshiUpdated: Wednesday, April 05, 2023, 05:02 PM IST
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Bal Bharati Paud Phata Road: 'An alternative to the problem, ecologically harmful and encouragement to private transport' | Anand Chaini

Even though the Pune Municipal Corporation has decided to go ahead with the Bal Bharati Paud Phata Link Road Project (BBPP Project), the opinions on the environmental concerns of the project are not dying. Time and again, experts have warned about the environmental impact of building the road. 

Completely unqualified: Madhav Gadgil

Speaking to the Free Press Journal, the veteran ecologist Madhav Gadgil said, “There is a policy to have 30% of green cover over the city. I remember then British officer Grand Duff in his book History of Mahrattas in 1820 had mentioned how all the hills in Poona were covered with trees. What is going on regarding this road is completely unqualified."

We need to strengthen the public transport: Sushma Date

Sushma Date who has been at the forefront of saving the Vetal Tekdi said, “There have several tekdis in Pune Taljai (Parvati), Vetal, Hanuman, Mahatma, Baner Hill. These are the identities of our city and our natural heritage. Once these tekdis are destroyed we won't be able to rebuild them. There are huge grasslands on these tekdis. Once they are destroyed, it will disturb the ecology and biodiversity. The forests keep the city's temperature cool. The tekdi is a natural aquifer. Two tunnels have been proposed with one elevation."

“All the developed nations have shown that building more roads is not the solution to cater to the increasing traffic, but we need to strengthen the public transport and push citizens to use it”, Date said.

An alternative to the problem: Prashant Inmadar

Expert committee member and Pedestrian First’s Prashant Inmadar said, “This road is not the usual road that is proposed in DP. The other roads that have been mentioned in the DP are surface roads, this road will be made by cutting the trees and hill."

"The problem is that we are thinking of giving alternatives to problems instead of giving alternatives to the solution. Building roads, flyovers, and bridges are not the solution but an alternative to the problem”, said Inamdar.

"The very study by PMC is pointing fingers towards the fact that this road is likely to remain under-utilized as the access to this road will take more time than cutting short it”, he informed.

"Whenever there is human interaction, the habitat gets destroyed"

Director of Sustainable Studies and ecologist Gurudas Nulkar said, “When we talk about the tekdi, there are two broad classifications of flora—one is native and the other is non-native. Native vegetation includes shrubs, herbs, and Chibuk Kota while non-native includes gliricidia which is the dominant variety. This was planted as it has better nitrogen-fixing properties and soil penetration."

"While talking about the fauna, if the vegetation is non-native then it will attract crows, peacocks, and jangle babber while native vegetation will have bulbul, Maina among others. Same is the case with kinds of falcon, eagles, harriers, butterflies and a few insect varieties”, he explained.

"Whenever there is human interaction, the habitat gets destroyed. The birds or insects may abandon the place forever. New birds will come, but with a change in flora and fauna. This changes the ecosystem too. Biotic and abiotic things have an exchange of matter and energy.  We, humans, get various ecological services through them like groundwater recharging, and keeping the food chain among others," he explained adding that destroying it directly affects human beings.

Environmentalists think that such projects are not only ecologically harmful but point towards incentivising private transport rather than public transport.

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