Spending 88 lakh on 'E-Trees' is 'bizarre', activists write to PMC in protest

Corporation had proposed a plan to install three electronic trees in the garden.

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Multiple organisations working for environmental protection across Pune have written to Mr Vikram Kumar, Chairman of Tree Authority and Municipal Commissioner of Municipal Corporation Pune, objecting to the proposed plan of installing 3 artificial trees at a cost of Rs 88 lakh at the Balasaheb Thackeray Garden at Dahanukar Colony of Kothrud by Pune Municipal Corporation. Corporation had proposed a plan to install three electronic trees in the garden. The trees were supposed to communicate digitally with children and talk with citizens. 

Vasundhara Swachata Abhiyan Pashan, Mission Groundwater and Aundh Vikas Mandal have written to PMC in this regard, asking the administration to scrap the plan, activists have named this as 'bizarre, illogical tender'.

According to the legal activists, the proposed plan of PMC does not comply with the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, Rules 2009, Schedule I for plantation of native trees in Pune. Besides, they have alleged that the PMC administration is wasting taxpayers money on bizarre ideas.

Vivek Velankar of Sajag Nagrik Manch talked to Indie Journal on this issue, stating that "Pressure might have been created from Mayor as the trees were supposed to be installed in his ward. The standing committee of Pune Municipal corporation has approved this idea as there is no point in accusing only the ruling party, as the standing committee is comprised of all political parties. There have been multiple expenses which are made unnecessarily scenes last few years without any requirement."

Vaishali Patkar of Aundh Vikas Mandal said that "PMC should think on planting Nakshatra trees, Devrai, Panchvatika and set an example of the urban forest instead of wasting money on E-Tree which rather add to global warming and create e-waste in future."

Adding to this, Vivek Velankar said that "There is no tradition of reverting to such letters from PMC administration. We have also mailed environment minister Aditya Thackeray and hoping that some action should be taken against this."

Dhananjay Shedwale, of Devrai Foundation, said that there is a contradiction between the Central Government's position and the Municipal Corporation's decision making. "While on one hand, the centre has constituted a committee to promote tree conservation and plantation, we see the Municipal Corporation spending on artificial and cosmetic expenses like these."

Ganesh Bora of the Rotary Club of Walhekarwadi said, "Emphasis is expected on the conservation and conservation of real trees as global temperatures rise. it's unfortunate to spend the money of the citizens on such an unnecessary and useless project when the revenue of the corporation has already declined during the Corona period."

"Instead of artificial trees, the municipality should focus and spend funds on saving the trees that are entangled in the sidewalks of the smart city," Bora added.