The proposed destruction of Bharatvan – is it all for the sake of a Builder?

Nagpur: More and more Nagpur people have begun to wonder now: for whose sake really is that 500 meter extension being built through Bharatvan? An extension that will take the toll of 500+ mature trees and thousands of saplings. (Saplings that have been planted by nature and are growing without any human intervention or help!)

Residents of Bharat Nagar and Seminary hills, all are protesting that they DO NOT WANT this road extension; even if Futala road is closed for two years for ‘beautification'(??) they are ready to use the available alternate roads, even if they are longer.

For months Nagpurians – common Nagpurians – from all walks of life are pleading for the trees to be saved. On May 1st 2019, the longest human chain was formed for the cause of saving Bharatvan, which all realize are the lungs of the city. This is the last urban forest left in Nagpur. (There used to be many just a few decades ago. Remember the lush greenery that lay behind the Vidhan Sabha building? Remember the shrub forest that was a large part of Kachipura? All gone, to make way for marriage lawns and restaurants! Which are all illegal by the way, but who is bothered?)

This summer has been most brutally hot. Unlike any summer in anyone’s memory. People, mostly men of all ages, are falling like nine pins by the road side and other public places, dead due to the intense heat. Everyone knows that more trees and less cementing of roads and other surfaces is the only solution to this heat.

In the NMC H.Q itself there is a big placard saying “Plant trees”!!!

Yet, both political big wigs of the city AND the big bosses of civic administration have dug in their heels and seem very determined to go on with the felling of the trees and the building of this unwanted road! This is leading more and more people to ask the obvious question: what is the ulterior motive behind this road?

The horrifying thought that is crossing everyone’s mind is, is there a purpose behind the whole exercise of closing the Futala road and using that as a pretext for building this new road?

For those who do not bother with nature, greenery and environment this road is the most expedient. It does not disturb residents since there are no houses or offices/ shops etc here….only a “few trees”. Who will be bothered by the felling of these trees?

May be they were right in believing that! After all, we citizens of Nagpur have been mute spectators when thousands of city trees were cut down in the name of road broadening, construction of flyovers or building of new buildings. (Just remember the pristine VNIT campus as it was a few years ago! There used to be a fall in temprature as soon as you walked in the gate. Peacocks and small animals could be spotted everywhere. Now most of the trees and shrubbery have gone – making way for new faculty buildings, hostels etc.)

But to everyone’s surprise, the usually laid back and somnolent citizens of what was once India’s greenest city sprung into action once they heard that a road through Bharat van was mooted that would call for the felling of many trees. The movement against this road cuts across party lines. BJP supporters, Congress, AAP…. all are vehemently opposed to this road.

Then what is the compelling reason for building it?

The horrifying thought comes, fueled by many speculations that may be a builder with strong political connections has a big parcel of land in the vicinity but cannot develop it since there is no access road. As soon as that road is in place a big commercial complex or another tall ‘tower’ can spring up by its side that the builder and his friends believe will sell like hot cakes since it will have the Futala lake as a back drop!

They forget one basic consideration. If these old trees are cut down, will Futala continue to exist?
Experts say, ground water from Wadi to Sitabaldi is preserved due to this small forest.

If it goes, Nagpur will fast become a desert – full of cement roads and cement buildings. More people will die next summer – there will be an even more horrifying water shortage, but who cares??

It is common Nagpurians who will face the brunt; the ‘Rulers’ and their henchmen anyway all go to Europe, Australia or other cool places for summer holidays! They are always insulated…

That is their belief at least. This sweet notion will soon be shattered.

But it may be too late for future generations by then.


Sunita Mudaliar – Executive Editor