After the forest department suspended its garden projects in Taljai and Vetal Tekdi (hill), due to strong opposition from locals, the department now plans to develop a forest garden in Hadapsar.
This urban forest will be developed by the state government at Kalepadal in Hadapsar at the cost of ₹2.5 crore. The garden will have paths and local tree species. The proposal for this urban forest park was submitted by Hadapsar legislator Chetan Tupe.
“The eight acre land is unused in the middle of a locality which belongs to the Forest Department. The state government had a program to fund innovative programs. When Ajit Pawar was Minister of Finance, I proposed to establish an urban forest oxygen park in Hadapar, Kalepada region. pawar approved ₹2.5 crore funding for the same,” Tupe said.
According to Tupe, the plan includes the development of a nakshatra garden, a butterfly garden, a rockery, a nursery and a flower bed on the eight-acre plot.
After the funds were approved, the inauguration was performed by Nationalist Congress Party MP Vandana Chavan and Lok Sabha MP Amol Kolhe this week. The Forest Department expects to complete the project in the coming months.
Last year, the Forest Department suspended its plan to beautify the Taljai Hills after locals objected on the grounds that the concretization would harm the ecology.
In yet another case, four years ago the forest department offered another ‘van udyan’ (forest garden) to Vetal tekdi. However, after locals objected, the department shelved its plans which included a tree-planting campaign and the installation of bio-toilets, water tanks and information boards in the area.
Despite repeated attempts, Deputy Forest Conservator Rahul Patil was unavailable for comment.
Another Forestry Department official who requested anonymity said, “Previously this land was with the district collector and later it was handed over to the Forestry Department. The Forest Department has given this garden a nod. This urban forest will be developed and maintained by the forest department only.
“We are following all Forest Department standards when developing this garden. We have received all necessary approvals from the Forest Department. The Hadapsar area is mainly known for its waste projects, but this project would give a new identity to the locality,” Tupe said.
NCP MP Vandana Chavan said, “There is a need to create more urban forests in the city. After the pandemic, there is a need for more such areas that will provide oxygen.
Sushma Date, a city conservationist, said: “The natural area (land) should be kept as a pristine wilderness area and should not be converted into a garden.