Green Hills

While most of us bemoan the loss of green cover in Pune, this group of 20 people have been doing everything they can to prevent Pune from turning into a concrete jungle. The Green Hills group has one goal, to make the hills around the city greener. The group, which became a charitable trust four years ago, is the collective effort of several people, prominent among them being Shrikanth Paranjape and Ravindra Purandare.The group started its mission by turning Hanuman tekdi near Fergusson College into a green haven. It then turned its attention to Chatushrungi hill and is now set to include Baner and Warje areas under its umbrella. The group has planted and nurtured more than 3,000 trees in these hills.Purandare, who settled down in the city a decade ago after a stint in the UAE, says, “When I was there, the UAE had a population of about 2.5 million and they managed to plant almost 4 million date trees. This is the number of trees planted by the government alone, not counting the contribution of social organisations and individuals.” What struck Purandare was how the country managed to develop a green cover despite the harsh climatic conditions there.After Purandare moved to Pune, he started visiting Hanuman tekdi often. “Then I met Paranjpe, who was involved in the initiative. I asked him if I could help. That’s how Green Hills was born.” Since then, the organisation has grown to include people from diverse backgrounds including students to professionals, all dedicated to the cause of a green city. “We have people who register with us, work for some time and then disappear. But then, there are always new people joining us. So, it’s a circle.” On most occasions, members pay from their own pocket. However, the group is not averse to the idea of contributions from individuals and organisations who want to do their bit for nature. The group meets twice every week on Thursdays and Sundays, especially to water the plants. “It’s a sight to behold. The number of children, especially school students, who help us on Hanuman tekdi, is heartening,” says Purandare. The younger crop of tech-savvy volunteers have managed to spread the word around, he adds. Sanjay Athavle, who manages the website of the organisation, is one such techie. “The site is doing well. More than 100 volunteers have registered with us through the site. And it’s not just the students and professionals who are enthusiastic, we also have a labourer who works with us without charging us. We all work towards the same goal,” says Athavle. Next in the agenda is a plant exhibition. “We plan to create posters of the trees we plant, along with all the information and put them up to make the project as informative as possible,” says Athavle.Aside from Purandare, Paranjape and Athavle, the others involved in the group are Shrirang Dedge, Atul Wagh, Jayant Deodhar, Pravin Gaikwad, Balasaheb Dashrath, Subhash Raste, Kedar Godbole, Anand Dewale, Suchit Birari, Sadashiv Bhave, Amay Gangurde, Nandu Kulkarni, Mahesh and Shashikant Jadhav.

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