Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray has stepped forward to save a 400 year old banyan tree and has written to Union Minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari.
For the construction of Ratnagiri-Kolhapur-Miraj-Solapur National Highway No. 166, the 400 year banyan tree will have to be cut down.
In his letter, Thackeray has urged Gadkari not to cut down the old banyan tree. There is also growing opposition from the locals. The villagers have also started a 'chipko' movement to save the banyan tree. Against this backdrop, Thackeray has written to Gadkari requesting him to carry out road works from an alternative site without cutting down the banyan tree.
National Highway No. 166 passes between Miraj and Pandharpur from Bhause. There is a temple of Goddess Yalamma in the village which has a 400 year old banyan tree. This banyan tree covers an area of 400 square meters. "This banyan tree is a historical place and a natural habitat for bats and other rare birds," Aditya said in a letter to Gadkari. Considering the historical significance of the banyan tree, Aditya has requested to change the alignment of the highway to some extent and save the banyan tree.