Vetal Hill in Pune

Vetal Hill in Pune

Location

Pune City is surrounded by many hills including Katraj hill, Panchgao- Parvati, Ramtekdi, Gultekdi, Range Hills, Dive Ghat. Vetal hill is one of the important hill situated in city area. It runs North-South with some spurs running perpendicular to this hill. Vetal hill run across areas like SNDT, Law College, Gokhle Nagar, Symbiosis and Chatushringi. Important spurs of Vetal hill are Fergusson College Hill and Chatushringi Hill.

Phisiography

The vetal hill is located to the west side of Pune Municipal Corporation. The geographical area is 180 30’ to 180 32’ N and 730 49’ to 730 52’ E covering an area of 10. 5 sq. km. The highest point in Vetal Hill is about 800 m. A temple of Vetal, from which the name of the hill is derived, is situated near this point. Forest Department has recently constructed a watch- tower near the temple.

Climate

The area shares almost same climatic conditions as that of Pune City. The maximum temperature in this area goes up to 400 c in summer and minimum temperature fall as below as 50 c. Some Important features of the climate are:

Winter: Mid Nov - mid Feb. Spring: Mid-Feb to end-March. Summer: Early-April to late-May. Monsoon: Early June - early October. Post-Monsoon: Early Oct - early Nov. Rainfall- 68 cm (annual average)

Flora

Vetal Hill in Pune

The forest type in this area is dry- deciduous as that of hills around Pune. Medium sized trees along with shrubs constitute majority of the vegetation. Diversity of herbaceous species is at its peak in monsoon months. Some parasites like Dendropthoe, Striga are also reported in the area. One important characteristic of the area is total absent of epiphytic species. Detailed Floristic Study of Vetal Hill was carried out by V. N. Joshi and M. S. Kumbhojakar of Agharkar Research Institute, Pune in 1997. They enumerated occurrence of 416 species of angiosperms belonging to 101 families, 2 pteridophytes and one Bryophyte. Much before Joshi and Kumbhojkar’s work, ecological survey of the hill was conducted by Ezekiel around 1917-1918. Joshi, Kumbhojkar and Kulkarni in their work on changing floristic pattern of Vetal hill (1992) reported absence of 30 species which were reported by Ezekiel. The dominant plant community in the area is Boswellia serrata- Anogeissus latifolia. Other dominant members of this area are Dalbergia lanceolaria, Acacia chundra, Dolichandrone falcata, Albizzia procera Capparis grandis. Some herbaceous and shrubby weeds which are now naturalized in the area include Tridax procumbens, Lagascea moollis, Cassia uniflora, Lantana camara. Plantation of some exotic species like Gliricidia sepium, Leucaena leucocephala has been undertaken by forest department. Dalbergia melanoxylon is one interesting example for spread of exotic species. This species was planted by Britishers in Pune University area. This species was totally absent on other areas of Pune. Recently however, the species is observed to be spreading in and around the area of the Vetal Hill, and is on the verge of becoming dominant species there. The area is important on account of the occurrence of some important endemic species. Some examples of the endemic species found here are Jatropha nana, Cissus woodrowii, Mussanda laxa, Indoneesiella echioides, etc.

Fauna

Vetal hill harbors a lot of wildlife which includes birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals.

Present Status

During the last few years the area has been subjected to various stresses of anthropogenic activities. Plantation of exotic species by forest department, urban development, tree cutting are few of them. Many aforestration programs have been undertaken either by Pune Municipal Corporation or by state forest Department have resulted in growth of many ornamental and exotic species. This has affected in some or other way on the natural vegetation of the hill. A new road connecting Balbharati and Paud Phata is proposed so as to decrease traffic pressure in Nal Stop Chowk. The road will cut across a nearly two kilometre patch of forest on vetal hill, cutting close to ten thousand fully matured and grown trees. The proposed bypass will bring automobile pollution, noise and congestion into the heart of a green area at the foot and lower ridge of the Vetal hill. This is a catastrophic proposal and will destroy one of the last virgin green areas left in Pune. Several citizen groups and activists have opposed the proposal. 12 NGOs recently wrote a letter to the PMC opposing the road. A blog www.rescuepune.blogspot.com and an online petition was promoted to stop the construction of the road. Nagrik Chetana Manch has gone to the Mumbai high Court in a PIL and the HC has stayed the construction of the road. Due to increased urbanization and increased population the biotic pressure in the form of cutting of trees has increased on forest of Vetal Hill.ARAI is located in vetal hills.

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