The stage is set for the city to witness one more green battle. The bone of contention this time is the Empress Botanical Garden,located on Pune-Solapur Road. The Agri-Horticultural Society of Western India (AHSWI),which has been managing this state-owned garden,is planning a campaign against an alleged government plan to acquire some part of the 40-acre garden for a housing project.
Talking to the media on Saturday,AHSWI honorary president Mohan Dharia,honorary secretary Suresh Pingale and honorary treasurer Suman Kirloskar,expressed their dissatisfaction with the state governments move and announced they would launch an Save Empress Garden campaign if the state does not abandon its plan.
Last week,some officials of the Public Works Department (PWD) approached us and intimated that there was a plan to acquire some part of the garden land for residential schemes, Pingale said.
Initially known as ‘Soldiers Garden’ as the British Soldiers frequented it for recreation,the Empress Garden started being known in its present way back in 1892. Ever since,it has been managed by AHSWI,and the garden is as much a recreational retreat as a show house of botanical splendour.
The Empress Garden is a matter of pride for the city. If we have to save Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad from further environmental hazards,we need to save the gardens and hills. In times when global warming has started playing havoc,the state is planning to de-reserve a part of the garden land,cut huge trees and then raise housing complexes on that,which is completely wrong, Dharia said.
Pingale also appealed to students,IT engineers and common citizens to come together and send a Save Empress Garden message to the state government.
The garden belongs to the state government and we are willing to hand over its garden management to the state,if it promises to take care of it without any environmental hazards, Kirloskar said.
When contacted,executive engineer of PWD,Pune division,J D Kulkarni said he had no idea of any such proposal. There are a number of wings of the PWD here. So I do not know for sure whether the state government has any such proposal, he said.