Pune’s Rivers – Apathy at the onset of World Environment Day
Rivers, A Natural heritage of Pune choked with rampant dumping debris and illegal encroachments in flood lines.
Punekars are well aware of the state of Rivers of Pune, and also the causes. While we celebrate World Environment Day, our rivers are gasping for breath and their own space and the flood risks because of sheer negligence and sheer apathy of PMC, PCMC, Cantonment, elected representatives and the Building Industry and the citizens turning a blind eye.
Citizens of Aundh, Baner, Balewadi, Bopodi, Bavdhan, New Baner Balewadi Link Road, Pashan Ngo’s in water sector and many Civil Society organizations have been voicing their concerns over :
- Illegal encroachments and rampant dumping along Mula, Ram Nadi, Dev nadi banks in the flood lines created by Water Resource Department.
- Lot of ongoing drainage works pipes and debris can also be seen in the river beds and also in Natural storm drains at many places in Ramnadi, Drain near Jupiter hospital etc.
- All this has increased the flood risks in the areas.
- Recent sand mining during COVID at the Ramnadi Mula confluence has changed the river course of Mula and Ramnadi
- Lot of dredged material during illegal sand mining is still lying in the river bed of Mula and Ramnadi.
- Mula River’s original width is almost reduced to half at many places which has increased the flood risk.
- To make the matters worse, a new bridge which is coming up near existing bridge near D Mart has stopped the Mula river flow by coffer dam and the slabs constructed during construction are not removed. It has created huge obstruction in the river flow.
- During April & May this was the major cause of Water hyacinth proliferation as the river was not flowing. After repeated complaints by citizens, PMC & PCMC has taken up the work of removal of water hyacinth from Mula River.
- Surprisingly the heaps of water hyacinth lie in the river bed causing more obstruction to the flow.
Since last few years this area gets flooded at many locations being a very sensitive flood plain with multiple confluences and citizens have been sending repeated reminders to local Ward office, Collector office, PMC and PCMC but to no response. The dumping has continued during
night hours at multiple locations. Citizens also observed PMC trucks dumping solid waste into the same heaps. Finally the desperate citizens approached Environmentalist and Activist Ar.Sarang Yadwadkar and shared their grievances. Yadwadkar visited the site and was shocked
to see the 3 storied high dump was happening and PMC Road sweeping machines parked near the site of dumping.
Yadwadkar immediately contacted MLA Adv Vandana Chavan, who
immediately reached the site. Understanding the grave situation, and the flood risk, Vandana Chavan immediately contacted all respective officers and police and asked them to reach the site. Locals also mentioned that the dumping is planned methodically. One person collects money from dumpers and asks them to dump at the location.
Officers and staff who reached the site were – Additional Commissioner, Kunal Khemnar, Deputy Commissioner, Ajit Deshmukh, Water Resource Department EE, Late, Aundh Ward Officer Jaydeep Pawar, Ward supervisors Chandgude and Vairat, Police Constable, E R Sable on instructions by API Malegave ( Chatushrungi Police station)
There were many Citizens and NGO’s and representatives of Civil Society Organizations who voiced the threats to their lives and properties.
Present were Environmentalist and activist, Ar. Sarang Yadwadkar, Jeevitnadi team of river warriors lead by Shailaja Deshpande, Ravindra Sinha of Mission Ground water, Vaishali Patkar, from Aundh Vikas Mandal, Pushkar Kulkarni from Vasundhara Swachata Abhiyan, Swapna Narayan of Area Sabha, and many residents of the area from Bavdhan to Bopodi who have been getting affected by floods.
Vandana Chavan, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha demanded immediate removal of the rabbit and other material by PMC within 2-3
weeks. However, she insisted that PMC must recover this money from the owners as they are at fault and tax payers money should not go for the same. She also emphasized that this is the responsibility of Beat Officer who has been appointed by PMC Commissioner exclusively to act against encroachments and dumping etc. This provision is made to control such activities. If he fails his duty a severe punishment of imprisonment will be enforced. The law has become more stringent against illegal dumping and encroachment, she said. Khemnar suggested to create a committee comprising citizens and PMC officers.
A local level committee with citizens’ representatives lead by Vaishali Patkar & ward officers will review the progress every Thursday.
PMC Head office will constantly review the work and connect with Ar. Sarang Yadwadkar to update progress and get reviewed from citizens.
Additional Commissioner Kunal Khemnar acted fast and has created a team to execute and monitor the works. He has also promised citizens that he will be on the job and will welcome suggestions by citizens.
Citizens thanked him for his immediate action.