Community Tree Plantation – our long struggle.

   

When we started the tree plantation at Hanuman Tekdi hill and Chatursungi Hill , there was no financial backing or political support.  But we had committed people. The founder of this group Srikanth Paranjpe was  praying in front of god hanuman and appealing him to stop people  from snatching natural resources. He was questioning himself “Why should I call myself educated , scientific and develop when my actions are bringing  mother earth to verge of disaster ? “ . He started finding answer to his questions in tree plantation and living simple life. At the age of seventy he still bi-cycles and brings home- grown plants and climbs daily to both hills.

By the grace of god many like minded people joined him. Ravi Purandare was one of them.  Ravi has lot of  innovative ideas and possesses a dream to succeed.  A Green Hills group trust formed in 2004 with eight committed people. Slowly dreams of the group was getting realized on the top of Hanuman Tekdi … but not without overcoming following obstacles.  

Purandare Tank at Hanuman Tekdi Raste Tank Shinde Tank at Hanuman Tekdi
     
Athavale & Dedge Tank at Hanuman Tekdi Bhalerao Tank at Hanuman Tekdi Paranjpe Tank at Hanuman Tekdi
   


Water availability at hills top.


   

On Hanuman Tekdi , municipal water was available only at bottom of the hill on both sides. That is in the Symbosis institute’s compound beside Ambedkar museum and on other side in the Furgusson college compound.  Initially Green Hills Group tried to get permanent water connection of Pune Municipal Corporation with the help of local corporater .  Pipeline was sanctioned and connection came upto certain point where it required to pass through a private bungalow in society near the hill. The owner of the bungalow and chairman of society objected to taking the water pipeline through the bungalow. They explained that this is one of the few hills in Pune where there is no slum huts. The moment there is a water connection for plantation, the hill will get covered with slum in no time. There will be no place to plant. Our group agreed and started looking for alternatives.

Stone Quarry at Hanuman Tekdi Stone Quarry at Hanuman Tekdi
     


Taking water from bottom of hill in sufficient quantity to the hill top was very laborious task , limiting number of plants you can grow.
But many devotees who use to go to hanuman temple daily helped us . They used to take small two litters plastic cans while climbing the hill. It was very heartening experience. Later , Pramod Ekbote from Pune corporation’s fire brigade office helped in getting water tanker from fire brigade. Slowly we constructed more  tanks to store water on the hill.

Now we are at better position. We constructed trenches on the hill to direct the flow of water into a natural stone mine. The rain water gets collected in the stone mine below the hill. We constructed 8 concrete water tanks and two syntax tanks on the hill. With the help of Honda kerosene driven  pump we bring  the rain water to the ten tanks spread across  the hill. We have now around 1.5 Lack (150000) litters of water capacity on the hill. This covers our water requirement from October (post mansoon) till March. We still need water from water tanker (not rain water) for the peak summer season.

Last year (after 2007 Monsoon )  we had a bad experience. The water level in the quarry started coming down.  This might be due to draining of water from a big construction site half kilometers from the quarry. We managed to pump most of the water into concrete tanks quickly. But  water will not last till summer. We are quite confident of overcoming this problem. We are also praying that it does not repeat next year. 
On Chatursungi hill , Tata motors and Maharashtra bank had donated two syntax tanks. We have constructed two concrete  tanks on the hill. We fill the tanks with private water tanker every month. We have total around 20000 litters of water storage capacity available  on the hill. One of the concrete tank is leaking. Now we have bought around twenty five 200 litters tin drums.  We collect water from syntax tank to the tin drums and with the help of 2 to five litters plastic cans we water the plants.

Recently we layed 700 feet Reliance Pipe on Chatushrungi hills to fill the concrete tank on the corner of the hill. We also constructed two small stone wells to house two Plastic Moulded tank. This will enable us to fill the water with any tanker without having provision of water pump. With the help of a Dewale Mali (who also maintains univercity garden) and two labours we dug the soil around the plants. Now plants are looking healthy.





Danger to the plants from grazing animals.


   

This is another serious obstacle we faced in our work. Cows , buffalos & sheep were  left loose on these hills. These animals were eating away the newly blossom leaves . It was  a  set-back to the growth of the small plants was a serious problem for us.

 But after sustained efforts Pune Municipal Corporation came to our  help on the Hanuman Tekdi. They have provided two watchman . They have constructed a wall to prevent entry of animals.  Thanks to the cooperative attitude of PMC officials like commissioner Pravin Sing Pardeshi and Mr Khaire. 

Watchman and Labours collecting dried leaves Watering after hayfire ensures rebirth of burnt plants Watering using cycling pump - but will it waste water ?
     
   


Hey fire or grass fire.


   

On both the hills every year grass is growing upto shoulder height. This makes  climbing hill very scary due to fear of snakes . Some people use to fire the grass so that they can walk freely on the hill. This problem is very prominent in Chatursungi hill where there are no watchman. Last year we tried to cut grass as much as possible , but meanwhile some one has lit fire. Around 30 % of the small plants got burned . Since we immediately watered them we could save around 15 % of those burnt plants. So far we have not been able to find the solution for this problem. Cutting the grass is very expensive since there is a huge area . We may not be able to do much unless suitable financial assistance is received .
In 2008 Nihar Agrotech has provided grass cutting machine for few days. We could cut most of the grass at Chatushrungi hill. Let us see if we succeed in overcoming the hay fire problem .

Grass Cutting at Chatushrungi Hill Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge
     
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Miscreant elements in society


   

It is very unfortunate that there are some miscreant elements in society who do not understand the effect of their actions. Few group of boys  of age group 12 to 16 go roaming on the hills especially in summer holidays . They find joy in destructive activities. Two of our syntax tanks of 3000 litters capacity donated by PMC were broken by hitting stones. Two tanks of capacity 5000 litters were pierced by nails.

We then started to construct concrete tanks of 15 inch thick walls. Now we have total eight concrete tanks on the hill. But we have to pay big cost in terms of effort  and time to learn the alternative.

We also get frustrated when we see broken liquor bottles around the tanks. There is even more frustration when our plastic cans gets disappeared one fine morning. Recently few miscreant boys disturbed the nearby Symbiosis college by smimming and making noice in the tank near Symbiosis compound. Ravi spend many hours in hot sun and got constructed concrete slab on the two tanks.

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As  more awareness about environment is spreading across all levels of society , the nuisance from miscreant elements is going down.  Now some of these boys started helping us. They are preventing other boys from fixing bird traps, lighting hey fire and even helping us in watering the plants. Now we are not objecting poor people in using the water tanks as free swimming pool in hot summer.

We are planning to plant more fruit trees like Jamun, Mango , Tamarind , awala and guava . We believe this will provide food to poor people leaving around the hill.