Pune: Big effort to turn 11 acres of barren land into mini forest

Citizens have taken up the task of turning an 11-acre barren land near Mohammadwadi into a mini forest.

The initiative by Anandvan Mitra Mandal, headed by Praveen Kumar, is already under way with volunteers contributing towards constructing trenches, ponds and planting various trees in the area.

The area, covering a tekdi, belongs to the forest department, which has partnered with the non-governmental organisation for this green initiative. The forest department has built boundary walls and an entrance gate near Nine Hills Society and Elina Living Society, Mohammedwadi, to restrict entry of vehicles and trespassers.

“We plan to turn this barren tekdi into a forest like Anandvan in the NIBM Road area. This project was inaugurated on Environment Day (June 5). We have already built a pond with the capacity to hold 50,000 litres of water and divided the entire area into different zones to encourage biodiversity. Volunteers have planted trees such as neem, peepal and tamarind that are beneficial for avian life,” said Kumar.

Over 110 volunteers have worked on this project, including residents of the area, student groups and young professionals interested in nature work. Citizens from locations such as Uruli Kanchan and Nanded City have also pitched in. The volunteers work to revitalise the tekdi every day from 6.30-11am. All necessary materials and equipment are donated by citizens.

“We want to install a drip irrigation facility. Four months ago, we proposed that a pipeline be laid from Bhairoba Nullah to provide waste water to the tekdi. It will help us convert 2-3 lakh litre waste water into grey water for plantation on a daily basis, while also reducing the flooding problem in that area. It will take a lot of water to turn the barren land into a forest as the soil has hardened. We are also dumping good quality soil for the plantations to flourish,” said a volunteer.

Housing societies in the area are donating four tankers of water on a daily basis for this work. “We are getting together and leaning how to take care of the environment so that we can make the city greener and its air cleaner. Turning barren land into a mini forest will help improve air quality, which in turn will have positive effects on public health. All participants wear masks and maintain social distancing protocols,” said a volunteer.

Anyone who wants to volunteer can reach out to the NGO through their Facebook page and come over to the tekdi to help out.

“There is enough work for everyone, and we invite everyone to help out in whatever way they can. We are also looking for donations in the form of water, soil, coconut pits and most importantly, plants. It will take a few weeks for the project to be completed, though maintaining the greenery will be a continuous task, ” said Kumar.

Rahul Patil, deputy conservator of forests (Pune division), said, “This is a great project for citizens to come together and participate in. The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the forest department is also involved in this eco-friendly initiative. We urge all citizens to come forward and participate in such initiatives in their areas. Similar projects are being planned for other barren plots in and around the city.”

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