The former IISER employee has again decided to raise the issue of alleged unlawful chopping of trees within the institution.
On Monday morning, Watve wrote a detailed post on his social media page, questioning the credibility of the research institution and its insensitivity towards the environment. On December 12 last year, the scientist had alleged that hundreds of trees within the institute were being felled on the pretext of various development works carried out sans permission from the civic body.
To mark his protest, Watve had resigned from his position of chairman of landscape committee established by the institute.
“I conducted a detailed study of the satellite images and found that at least 564 trees were cut between 2014 and 2018. The details were shared with the institute on December 17 as there are researchers working in earth sciences and ecology” said Watve.
Watve also added that he waited for two months to hear back on his analysis but failed to receive any response from the authorities concerned.
The scientist then resorted to filing a Right to Information (RTI) query, seeking the number of trees cut and wanted to know if any permissions were obtained for the same. “The application was submitted along with the satellite images of the vanished green cover and the report to seek an explanation,” he said.
However, in its reply, the institute claimed to have no ‘official record’ of the felled trees. “This is as good as saying that a theft never happened. Even the RTI reply completely ignores the change seen in the satellite images and does not provide any explanation,” he lamented.
Speaking to Mirror, Watve said that it is surprising that a national science research institute that has access to high-end technology has failed to do any analysis on the issues raised.
“In reality, IISER, Pune, has top scientists doing high-quality research. They need to decide, at this critical moment, whether they want to stand by the truth. If they don’t, people cannot be blamed if they start doubting the institute’s credibility,” he added.
Posting pictures as evidence on social media, he said, “Images 1 and 2 are the same site in February versus November 2017, while the images 3 and 4 of the same sites in the year 2017 versus 2018.”
“I had shown with the help of satellite images that the green cover has substantially reduced on the campus, whereas much of this damage could have been easily avoided,” Watve said.
The former scientist said he would soon bring up the issue with the Pune Municipal Corporation.
An official statement from the institute said, “IISER, Pune, is committed to increasing the tree cover on the campus in a sustainable manner. Plans are underway to plant more trees in time for the impending monsoon.”
The statement further said that the institute has no record of the green cover and trees planted within its premises; hence it could not comment on the reduced number of trees.