The long struggle of citizens to retain the green cover in the 23 merged villages has finally yielded result. The state government on Wednesday issued a notification upholding the Bio Diversity Park (BDP) reservation proposed by the Pune Municipal Corporation on 978.54 hectare land on the hills in the 23 merged villages.
The delay in the decision by the state government was due to the differences among political parties with Congress and Shiv Sena fighting in favour of BDP, while the NCP and the BJP had their reservations.
In the notification issued on Wednesday, the State Urban Development Department said the reservation for BDP was sanctioned with the PMC as the appropriate authority. It has further refused to grant and utilise Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) for the land under BDP reservation as declared in the past but clarified that a final decision would be taken after the TDR policy is framed.
The land under BDP is permissible to be used for agriculture, including horticulture, forestry and nursery. A historical museum can be developed only on the land owned by the government or PMC, subject to maximum floor-space area not exceeding 4 per cent of the total plot with ground floor without stilts.
The civic body can also construct a bio-diversity information and research centre, subject to maximum construction of floor-space area not exceeding 4 per cent of the total plot. There can be public streets with width not exceeding 9m, with the municipal commissioner finalising the alignment without cutting the hill area.
As per the notification, the state government has declared that only permission granted for development before March 21, 2005, when the resolution of BDP was passed in the PMC, will be considered legal.
The government has also dropped the provision that permitted restricted development on hill slopes and hill top zone and clarified that no agriculture, nursery, public park or any public utility will be allowed in the zone as proposed earlier. Of the 978.54 hectare land reserved for BDP, 124.45 hectare is government land and 853.09 hectare is owned by private parties. The political differences over BDP reservation delayed the decision bringing all the citizens’ groups together to fight for BDP reservation, following which the Green Pune Movement was launched.
Later, the then chief minister, Prithviraj Chavan, constituted an expert committee to study the matter to reserve the green cover and also compensate owners with green TDR, that would be applicable across the city. The committee had recommended that the compensation should be given in the form of TDR of four per cent with an incentive of two per cent more of the area if voluntarily given within a year but the state government notification said the TDR policy would be declared later.
“We are elated that BDP has been accepted by the government. We have worked long and hard. We believe in the importance of BDP. It is crucial for the survival of Pune. Everyone we have spoken with has invariably given us their support. Even people on the streets realise its importance. Nearly 88,000 people signed the petition to support us. But it is not only the 88,000 who joined our signature campaign, every single person who hears about the idea of BDP has lent support,” said Aneeta Benninger and Satish Khot of Green Pune Movement.