The Pune Municipal Corporation Road Dept. has proposed to axe 108 trees near the University Gate to widen the road in an effort to reduce the growing congestion at this junction. This proposal has been quickly approved by the Pune Tree Authority, the body created under the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975.
Parisar has strongly objected to this proposal for several reasons.
- Widening roads and building flyovers as a way to solve congestion doesn't work. Worldwide it has been observed that increasing road space only helps to increase traffic, a phenomenon known as induced traffic.
- Traffic on Aundh road (the road being widened) has to pass through the University Gate junction. The throughput capacity of this junction is ultimately limited by Ganeshkhind road, through which all traffic must pass. So widening the junction, while creating an impression of a reduced tail (seen at peak hours) may not actually reduce the time taken to pass through. In fact, conflict of merging traffic may actually reduce the throughput. This needs to be carefully studied, something the Road/Traffic department has not done.
- Cutting trees will have a double impact on the air quality - the increased emissions from the traffic and the reduced absorption by the trees. The Pune Municipal Corporation has a very bad track record when it comes to re-planting trees.
- Studies show that reducing urban tree cover can have an impact on diseases in the city. [report]
- Reducing tree cover creates a hostile environment for pedestrians and cyclists
Instead the solution is to continue improving public transport and infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.
Any road widening must be linked to this project.
- The cycle track on Aundh road is unusable and must be upgraded and extended to connect to the cycle track on Ganeshkhind road
- Aundh road is marked as a 36 meter road in the 1987 Development Plan for Pune and has been proposed to be widened to 45 meters in the draft Development Plan published by the city. The width and design for this road must be finalized prior to expansion.
- The draft Development Plan proposed certain design templates for a road of this width.
It is not clear if this design template will be adopted.
Sujit Patwardhan and Ranjit Gadgil on ABP Majha
Over 1,600 sign online petition to save University road trees - Sakaal Times, 10th June 2015