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Sunday

The Giant African Snail is in Pune!

Found on trees, and of course wandering about on the ground. Having found their way to Indian shores from Africa, these snails can grow quite big (I saw shells upto 3 inches and the snail body sticking out after that). Seen here clinging to tops of ornamental palm like trees. Pests in every sense, they thrive in moist climate and were visible in large numbers during this monsoon. Natural method of killing them includes salt and lime; apart from crushing their shells.. ugh! 



Thursday

Leave the Vetal Tekdi alone!

Sunset at Vetal Tekdi

The Vetal Tekdi is once again facing the threat of ‘development’, this time by none other than the Forest Department itself!
Please read on:
This is what the forest department has planned, as per a TOI news item. The image below shows it too: 



An excerpt from the TOI article:
“People may not be aware about various things about the local environment - the migratory birds that are regular visitors or certain useful medicinal plants. The project aims to highlight these aspects so they can be better appreciated. "How many people know what the inside of a honeycomb looks like? Or how termites built their colonies? Just providing detailed signage at important plants and trees with common and scientific names and ecological importance can provide so much information to visitors," Singh said.

Once the project has been completed, entry fees will be charged for its upkeep."As a lot of people are regular visitors and come here for their daily exercise routine, they will be given the option of buying annual passes for a nominal fee. These passes will be sold at a further concessional rate to students, senior citizens or schools that organize field trips," Singh said.

Apart from the data interpretation centre and the medicinal plant grove that will be set up, the forest department also wants to improve amenities for visitors. Drinking water, toilets and a few gazebos where people can practice meditation or yoga will be provided.”

What will happen if the above plan is implemented? 

The Vetal tekdi is already beautiful. Why is any artificial beautification needed? Natural paths are already there, as also natural nesting places for birds.

The birds are sure to vanish! Birds are creatures of habit. They do not like any interference or sudden changes  in the places they live in.  They are also very shy and wary of people. Most migratory birds who arrive here will take one look at all the concrete, the smoke and pollution from vehicles, and the hordes of visitors, and will look elsewhere to stay.
  

 
They say that all construction on the tekdi will be done with Ferrocrete which, if you examine, is just another name for reinforced concrete. Who are you trying to fool, Forest Dept?

Who would want to go all the way to the Vetal Tekdi to take lessons on beehives? There are no major beehives on the tekdi. 

Construction of toilets at various points means bringing pipes, drainage lines and sewage disposal units. Which means digging up of half the tekdi and smoke belching trucks going to and fro on what is currently natural grass and woodland. 
They will also require regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent foul odors. What kind of record do we have in maintenance of public toilets on the roads, forget the hills! 

Plans are afoot to set up “Medicinal Groves” and “Data Interpretation Centers” on the tekdi. This concept has earlier failed at places like Bhimashankar and is better developed in the Botanical gardens around Pune, not on a hill!

If we let this happen we ordinary Punekars will be the losers of fresh air, a natural environment, and free place to exercise. 

What can you do? 
Do participate in the signature campaign to oppose such destructive construction on Tekdis. It will be held on the Vetal Tekdi on coming weekend - 4, 5 Oct.

Monday

Stray dogs

Dog examining garbage for something to eat
 
Strays have found new seating: The tops of parked cars
  


A pack of strays: strength in unity