Maharashtra · Rivers

NGT stays work of Pune Metro affecting rivers: Another violation of the river floodplain

In a welcome move Western Zone Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued an interim stay on the proposed portion of the metro route passing through the Mutha river bed in the Pune city.[i] This directive was passed in an Environmental Interest Litigation (EIL) filed in the NGT on May 26 last year by a group of citizens contending that in the proposed metro rail alignment, a 1.7 km stretch passing through the left bank of the Mutha river could cause an irreversible damage to riverbank ecosystem along that route.

In the first phase two corridors of metro have been proposed in Pune. Corridor-I is of 16.59 km length from Pimpri-Chinchwad to Swargate and Corridor-II is of 14.6 km from Vanaz to Ramwadi. The petition before NGT Pune bench is against the 1.7 km stretch of Vanaz-Ramwadi corridor proposed through left bank of river Mutha. The metro route is proposed to enter the Mutha riverbed behind Savarkar memorial on Karve Road and proceed towards Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Bhavan and further to Food Corporation of India godowns behind Shivaji Nagar District Court.[ii] Two Metro stations are also proposed on the riverbed, one near Deccan Bus Stand and the other behind Sambhaji Park. Presently soil testing work for the project is in progress.

Proposed Metro alignment passing through Mutha riverbed (Source: Report of Technical Support Group on Biodiversity of PMC)
Proposed Metro alignment passing through Mutha riverbed (Source: Report of Technical Support Group on Biodiversity of PMC)

It certainly seems a good news for Pune’s rivers which have routinely made headlines for their pollution and poor state in general. Closer look towards the details however would cast a shadow on this development. The alignment through the river bed has been proposed despite PMC recently facing and losing a petition in NGT against 2.3 km long (and 24 m wide) road from Vitthalwadi to NH-4 bypass which was being constructed illegally right in the Mutha Riverbed. In its final judgment in July 2013 NGT ordered the road to be realigned. Subsequently a contempt petition was filed when PMC failed to comply with the orders where the NGT in January 2015 again ordered removal of the constructed road.[iii] Continue reading “NGT stays work of Pune Metro affecting rivers: Another violation of the river floodplain”

Dams · Urban Water Sector

Consume more, Pollute more, Pay less, Ask for more Dams: Pune City’s water policy

Above: Dying rivers, as they leave Pune Photo: Parineeta Dandekar

In May, decision of Pune’s Guardian Minister and head of canal committee of releasing 1 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) water from Khadakwasla Dam to downstream regions of Daund and Indapur saw huge protests from the city’s political parties and civic administration. Ensuring that Pune suffers no further water cut, even when downstream regions face historic drought, seems to have become the Mayor’s crusade. Keeping urban areas insulated and away from a terrible water crisis has its own major equity issues.

Pune is a water surplus city in upper riparian region of Krishna Basin. In a report “Reimagining Pune: Mission Smart City” submitted to Urban Development Department by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), it is admitted that Pune has water availability of 219 lpcd (liters per capita per day).[1] Even so, the city has been much reluctant to share its water with downstream villages. it has seen barely 20% water cuts since last October.

While discussions and debates about drought revolve around sugarcane, industries, rural water use, irrigation management etc, etc., the growing, unjustified footprint of urban areas generally is left scot free and Pune is a classic example if this.

Here, we take a brief look at PMC’s water supply approach with its monomaniacal supply-side focus. While sourcing much more water than allocated from four upstream dams, PMC has been shirking from its responsibility of treating waste water before releasing it for the downstream. PMC has taken the upstream dams for granted and is planning for expansion of water supply system with 24×7 water supply in near future, relying on more water from these dams. Continue reading “Consume more, Pollute more, Pay less, Ask for more Dams: Pune City’s water policy”

Dams · India Rivers Day

Muthai River Walk: Exploring what was and what can be

“A River Walk in Pune City? You must be kidding!” said my old friend when I asked her to join me for the Muthai River Walk on the India Rivers Day. I could not blame her. Inside the city limits, Pune’s Rivers: Mula, Mutha, Pawana, Indrayani and smaller rivulets like Dev Nadi and Ram Nadi look anything but walk-worthy. We Punekars have ensured that our rivers stink, are clogged with sewage and solid waste, have little water and carry exclusive sewage. Even the seasoned Jairam Ramesh, when he visited Pune as the Union Environment Minister, was appalled at the state of Mula-Mutha. He immediately wrote a strong-worded letter to the Collector, but that did not really change anything. Continue reading “Muthai River Walk: Exploring what was and what can be”