ADITYA SHIRKE

Citadel - - PUNEITES SPEAK -

Artist

Man from an­cient times has been a so­cial animal. But it is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing clear that he is al­beit a self­ish one, typ­i­cally giv­ing no thought to any other species on the planet. Be­ing a Punekar for more than three decades, I have seen the city as the pen­sioner’s par­adise, to the ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre it has trans­formed into, and then an over­whelm­ing IT hub. This has been quite a trans­for­ma­tion, but the more dras­tic change has been how the green­ery of the city has changed…lit­er­ally! Where, once fans were rarely even in­stalled in houses, let alone used, now air con­di­tion­ers have al­most be­come manda­tory. The cause for this change in Pune’s ideal weather seems rather ob­vi­ous, a city that had a thick green cover and hills that dot­ted the en­tire city have sud­denly started dis­ap­pear­ing. Yes, hills too have been grad­u­ally flat­tened for con­struc­tion, huge banyan trees that once ma­jes­ti­cally lined the Ganeshkhind road, Fer­gus­son Col­lege and most of the roads are now but a dis­tant memory. In such a sit­u­a­tion, Em­press Gar­den has been one of the last places where one might still find so­lace of any­thing that can be se­ri­ously called plant life. The ab­so­lutely ruth­less and im­prac­ti­cal step of re­duc­ing the area of the gar­den to build build­ings for bu­reau­crats, of­fi­cials or even com­mon­ers is in line with the al­ready in­tel­lec­tu­ally chal­lenged de­ci­sions that have taken Pune’s eco­log­i­cal sys­tem down a path of mind­less and in­sen­si­tive de­struc­tion. A city is not just its peo­ple; it is the earth, wind, air, wa­ter, flora and fauna. Prob­lem is, we just don’t de­fine a city like that any longer.

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