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Twelve-year-old pens 150 RTI applications for father’s sake
Pune birds home in on man-made nests
Pune builds homes for displaced birds
PMC hacks 53 trees on Singhad road
Twelve-year-old pens 150 RTI applications for father’s sake
For the past two years, 12-year-old Kumar Laxman Kolekar, has been writing an application to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) almost every week, seeking information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005. Kolekar is doing it for his illiterate father, who was denied a job by the civic body’s garden department which claims his application did not fit with the rules. The Kolekars are Dhangars, a nomadic tribe, living at Jambhulwadi Road in Dutt Nagar on the fringes of Katraj. The father puts his thoughts together and dictates the matter, which Kumar, a student of Chakradhar Vidya Mandir in Dutt Nagar, writes in Marathi and reads it back for corrections. Together, the father-son duo have filed as many as 150 applications till date and now have procured hundreds of documents from the PMC’s garden department. Kumar also reads the replies from PMC’s Public Information Officer (PIO ) to their RTI queries, before filing the appeals. Kolekar, from Sangola taluka of Solapur district, was working as a seasonal labourer at the PMC’s garden in Swargate and in the social forestry department. In 2002, his application for the post of a gardener was rejected by the PMC on the grounds that he did not fit with their rules. Instead, the PMC hired ten other gardeners who, Laxman says, were complete outsiders. His contention is that he had the required experience and had worked in the PMC and the social forestry departments and should have been given the job. However, PMC’s garden superintendent Yashwant Khaire said Kolekar’s claim held no water. “Laxman can approach the court for relief. The social forestry department did not forward his name to the PMC and hence he was not taken into service,’’ he said.
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Pune birds home in on man-made nests
It can be devastating to be away at work and come back to find your home razed. That’s the price Pune’s birds pay for choosing to stay in a city whose green spaces are making way for concrete jungles; their nests ugly blots against the steel and glass. But now, a few bird lovers and ornithologists are doing something about the birds’ lost homes. They have come up with a plan to put up man-made nests at public gardens in the city. To start with, about 60 ready-made nests made with bamboo and earthen pots have been put up at two gardens – Chittranjan Park and Katraj Park. “We plan to place at least 1,000 more such nests at various gardens in the city over the next few days,” B.V. Jagjhap, PMC Garden Department official, told HT. The officials expect the birds to move into these nests, which, they said, would encourage them to stay on in the city and check untimely migration. The city’s rapid urbanisation has upset the birds and the birdwatchers. “In fact, we have not seen sparrows for the past few days,” said Pande. The bird lovers sought the Pune Municipal Corporation’s help for the project. “During my visits to various countries in Europe and Asia, I found ready-made nests on trees. I decided to push the PMC to do something similar,” said Satish Pande, a bird expert. Pande has 15 such nests in his own garden and says the birds love their new homes. Yashwant Khaire, garden department chief, PMC, said the “nests would be put up at a height of at least 10 feet so that the eggs and the chicks are safe. We have not identified the trees”. The nests have been made keeping in mind the size of birds like mynas, sparrows, hornbills and parakeets.
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Pune builds homes for displaced birds
Cutting trees for the sake of rapid urbanisation has deprived winged creatures of their natural habitat. But all is not lost, at least in areas falling under the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

A few bird lovers and ornithologists, along with the PMC, have joined hands to help birds forced to make nests in unfamiliar terrain such as balconies.

Starting in the first week of March, PMC officials have set 60-odd nests made of bamboo and earthen pot atop trees at Chittranjan and Katraj parks. “We plan to place at least 1,000 more nests at various public gardens,” PMC Garden Department official BV Jagjhap told HT.

PMC Gardens Department chief Yashwant Khaire said the nests would be put up at least 10 ft off the ground. "The experiment will also help keep a check on the untimely migration of birds," officials said.

The project was started after a few bird experts met PMC garden department officials in January and drew their attention to the dwindling bird population.

“We have hardly seen any sparrows here for the past few days,” said bird expert Dr Satish Pande. “During my visits to Europe and Asia, I found that local authorities had put up ready-made nests for birds deprived of their habitat. I decided to push the PMC for a similar project.”

In Pune, the nests have been made keeping in mind the size of birds such as mynah, sparrow, hornbill, grey kit and parakeet, Pande said.

He has placed almost 15 such ready-made nests on trees near his house, and “the response has been good”.
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PMC hacks 53 trees on Singhad road
As part of the Pune Municipal Corporation's (PMC) ongoing road widening and concretisation work, the PMC's garden department has axed 53 trees on Sinhagad road over the last four months.

The trees were nearly 100 years old. Residents are more than a little sad at having lost their picturesque green canopy forever.

"No matter what the PMC says, we have disrupted the natural biodiversity," said Vimal Khutwad, a resident of Wadgaon Dhayari. In a span of four months, the PMC's garden department pulled down 53 full-grown banyan, tamarind and jamun trees for smooth flow of traffic between Rajaram bridge and the national highway overbridge, near Wadgaon, on Sinhagad road.

PMC chief garden superintendent Yashwant Khaire said his department started felling the trees only after procuring permission from the PMC's tree authority committee, headed by the PMC commissioner. "The trees were felled to reduce frequent traffic snarls on this 4-km stretch of road," Khaire said, adding that there had been no stiff opposition from the residents this time.

It may be recalled that last July, residents had filed a petition in the Bombay high court challenging the PMC's decision to axe century-old trees between the Rajaram bridge and the Indian Hume Pipe Company. "There is a provision in the Maharashtra (urban areas) Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, whereby we can pull down trees if they are a hindrance to the flow of traffic," Khaire said, admitting that the trees were very old.

A visit to the tree-felled area reveals that there is hardly any place on either side of the widened roads, which almost touch newly-constructed buildings and commercial establishments in the area.

Khaire said the PMC would plant twice as many saplings on both sides of the widened road. "In fact, we have already planted 125 trees on the stretch of road between Dandekar bridge and Rajaram bridge," he said.
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