Bombay High Court forms supervisory committee, to conduct comprehensive review of flood lines of rivers in Pune

Bombay High Court forms supervisory committee, to conduct comprehensive review of flood lines of rivers in Pune

Bombay High Court forms supervisory committee, to conduct comprehensive review of flood lines of rivers in Pune

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The Bombay High Court has directed the formation of a five-member supervisory committee to conduct a comprehensive review of the flood lines of rivers in Pune and redraw them as necessary.

27 June 2024

Pune- The Bombay High Court has ordered the formation of a high-level committee to conduct a comprehensive review of the flood lines of rivers in Pune. The court has recognized the need to redraw the flood lines.

Sarang Yadavadkar, Vivek Velankar, and Vijay Kumbhar jointly filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court. They requested a fresh study and the redrawing of the flood lines in Pune to ensure the safety of its residents. It has been pointed out that the water resources department overlooked several important factors when determining the flood lines of the rivers in Pune. This oversight could have serious consequences in the upcoming monsoon season. The PIL was filed against the State of Maharashtra, represented by the Principal Secretary of the Urban Development Department, and other respondents including the State of Maharashtra, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), and the Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (MKVDC), among others.

To expedite the process, the Bombay High Court has instructed the state government to establish a high-level committee within two weeks and to present a plan to the court within four weeks. Earlier, the court had instructed the Irrigation Department to examine and report on the demarcation of flood lines in Pune. This study, conducted in accordance with an order from March 27 of last year, identified several shortcomings in the previous flood line markings.

The MKVDC filed an additional affidavit, including a report dated January 2 this year. It was detailed by Shweta Kurhade, Executive Engineer of the Khadakwasla Irrigation Division, underscored critical oversights in the previous flood line demarcations-

1.    Free catchment area- the flow from the free catchment area between Khadakwasla Dam and Mula-Mutha Confluence was not considered in the 2011 flood line markings

2.    MERI guidelines- the guidelines issued by the Maharashtra Engineering Research Institute (MERI) in 2015 were ignored during the 2016 flood line markings

3.    TERI action plan- The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi prepared a climate change action plan in 2014 for Maharashtra. According to this, a 37.5% rise in rainfall around Pune with frequent cloud burst events was predicted. The PIL applicants have brought to notice that this prediction was ignored while marking flood lines.

The report recommended taking these factors into account for a comprehensive review to ensure a more accurate and thorough understanding of flood risks. To address these concerns, the high court bench led by Chief Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Justice Amit Borkar has directed the formation of a five-member supervisory committee. This committee will be chaired by the Additional Chief Secretary of the Department of Water Resources Development and will include experts from relevant departments and reputable external agencies at the national level.

The court has set a timeline for the committee’s formation and the completion of the review-

1.    The committee must be formed within two weeks

2.    A blueprint for the review must be prepared and finalized within four weeks thereafter

3.    A high-ranking officer, nominated by the Additional Chief Secretary, will file an affidavit detailing the steps taken to comply with the court’s directions

The PIL petition’s next hearing is scheduled for August 14, 2024. Until then, the state government is expected to file an affidavit detailing compliance with the court’s orders. This affidavit must be served in advance to the petitioners’ counsel and the PMC counsel.

Joyville