Guest Blog by: Amruta Pradhan
Background Three rivers (among some others) with a total length of 44km traverse through Pune city. Mula river flows a distance of 22.2 km, Mutha River 10.4 km and Mula-Mutha River 11.8 km. Plight of these rivers is well known. They have been featured in the list of 300 most polluted rivers of India. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), Maharashtra Water Resources Department (WRD) etc. have pulled number of controversies over river pollution, illegal construction of roads and townships through river bed and most recently Pune Metro being proposed through the river bed. Making a case for ‘rejuvenation’ of the ‘neglected rivers’, PMC has now proposed Pune Riverfront Development Project (PRDP). The project has been designed by the same HCP Design Planning & Management Pvt. Ltd (HCP) led by Ar. Bimal Patel from Ahmedabad who conceived and implemented Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project (SRFDP).
In September 2014 SANDRP in its article “Riverfront Development in India: Cosmetic make up on deep wounds” had raised serious issues regarding several riverfront development projects sprouting across India. Following the footsteps of SRFDP these projects treat rivers as extension of urban spaces and are more about encroachment of floodplains and river beds for real estate than restoration. Pune’s Mula-Mutha Riverfront Project being one among them, maintains the same focus. The project also shows several signs of an ill planned project which may exacerbate the risk of flooding and may take a severe toll on water quality and river health. This article questions some underlying assumptions upon which the project has been designed. Draft Master Plan (DMP) of the project prepared by HCP has been referred as a base document. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the project is of a poor quality and devoid of even basic information about the project. Thus was not referred for details. Continue reading “Pune Riverfront Development Project: Encroachment in the name of Rejuvenation?”
Following death of Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand (Prof G D Agarwal) while on fast unto death on Oct 11, 2018 and disappearance of Swami Gopal Das ji from AIIMS-Delhi, Swami Aatmabodhanand ji has been on fast unto death at Matri Sadan, Haridwar since Oct 24, 2019. In a letter to the Prime Minister on April 19, 2019 he has said that if the government does respond by April 25, 2019 to the four demands for which the fast undo death is undertaken, he will leave water from April 27, 2019. The four demands are well known:
- Cancel all under construction and proposed dams on Bhagirathi, Alaknanda and their tributaries.
- Prohibit all mining and tree cutting in the Ganga flood plains, particularly in Haridwar
- Enact Ganga Act for the preservation of River Ganga, the draft of which has been sent to the govt.
- Constitute an autonomous Ganga Council
Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 22 April 2019: Swami Aatmabodhanand to give up water; Why is BJP so little concerned about Ganga?”
Several organisations of Pune came together this year to celebrate the India Rivers Day in an unprecedented way. The events started from Nov 24 onwards and continued to Nov 28, and even on Dec. 1 morning, Jeevitnadi key persons had a 90 minutes Muthai River walk with some of the top officials (PMC Commissioner Saurabh Rao, Asstt Commissioner & all department heads) of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Jeevitnadi- Living River Foundation started celebrating Nov 28 as India Rivers Day in Pune from 2015 onwards in the name of “Muthai Mahotsav”. Continue reading “Amazing India River Day 2018 celebrations in Pune”
In the conference, “Dialogue on Urban Rivers of Maharashtra”, experts on water and rivers from all over the country strongly expressed their views and unanimously agreed that, “Pune River Front Development Project is certainly going to cause a disaster.” The conference also underlined the need for and decided to work for Urban Water Policy for Maharashtra and India.
The conference was jointly organised on 20 and 21st April at YASHADA by Indian National Trust for Art Culture and Heritage (INTACH – Pune Chapter) and South Asian Network for Rivers Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP). Experts from Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and various parts of Maharashtra attended the conference. Continue reading “India Urgently Needs Urban Water Policy: River Front Development Kills the Rivers”
The health and future of our country is critically dependent on the health of our rivers. To compromise upon our rivers’ health is to endanger our own existence and future. Most of the urban rivers in Maharashtra are in poor state affected by problems like pollution, with little or no biodiversity, little or no flow during most of the year, encroachment, dumping of waste, concretization and sometimes even mining. Water pollution from Urban Industrial effluents is a serious problem for the river, floodplain as well as ground water. With unplanned development, as the floodplains and riverbeds are being encroached, we are experiencing increased intensity and frequency of floods and flash floods. This can lead to an increasing possibility of water scarcity, depletion of groundwater levels and drought in spite of rains. Continue reading “Pune Dialogue on Urban Rivers of Maharashtra on April 20-21, 2018”
About Rivers Pollution and Pollution Control Board
Highest number of polluted rivers Maharashtra state has 49 polluted river stretches, highest in the country, which including Mithi, Ulhas, Vaitarna, Godavari, Bhima, Krishna, Tapi, Kundalika, Panchganga, Mula-Mutha, Pelhar and Penganga. 3,000 MLD of untreated sewage and industrial effluents are discharged into the state’s water bodies daily. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/pollution-in-three-maharashtra-rivers-is-nine-times-permissible-limit/story-RCuTrl8zi8tmFoOvgKR2zI.html(Hindustan Times, 16 Nov. 2017)
According to a report by Union Environment Ministry, Maharashtra generates about 8,143 Million Liter per Day (MLD) which is almost 13 per cent of the country’s sewage, butclaims to treats 5,160.36 MLD.In this way Maharashtra is releasing at least 3000 MLD untreated sewage in rivers, creeks and wetlands areas. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/834-factories-across-maharashtra-shut-down-in-2-years-for-causing-pollution-mpcb/story-MrmmXa9XH9Vdkzu2wKSdcL.html (Hindustan Times, 22 Dec 2017)
Continue reading “Maharashtra Rivers Review 2017: Multi-colored Rivers!”
Above: Children trying to understand why their River Mutha is so polluted Photo: Parineeta Dandekar
Treating even 50% of its sewage is a dream that has been eluding Pune for decades. Mula, Mutha, Pavna and Indrayani Rivers crisscrossing Pune have routinely made headlines for pouring Pune’s sewage into Ujani Dam in the downstream, which supplies drinking water to several towns and villages, including the city of Solapur. All these rivers are classified as one of the 35 most polluted river stretches of India by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has recently agreed to extend a loan of 1000 Cr. under project ‘pollution abatement of River Mula-Mutha’. Utilizing this funding PMC has proposed to build 11 new sewage treatment plants (STPs) with treatment capacity of 396 MLD. It is one of the star projects under Smart City programme and engineers of water supply department are gearing up for the construction of new STPs. As stated in the PMC newsletter of Feb 2016, the 11 new STPs will increase treatment capacity of Pune from current 477 MLD (Million Liters a Day) to 873 MLD which, it is claimed, will be sufficient to cater to sewage generation till year 2027. Continue reading “Pune plans more STPs while existing plants under perform and there is no attempt to fix them”
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). 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”
Above: Red arrows indicate diversion of water from Tata Dams into surplus basin. Source: Google earth images and SANDRP
Since past three years, SANDRP has been raising the issue of West-ward water transfer during drought years by hydropower dams. Maharashtra annually diverts 3324 Million Cubic Meters of water from its water deficit Bhima and Krishna basins into the water surplus Konkan basin for hydropower generation. This happens though 6 dams on Bhima Basin privately owned by Tata Power and the Koyana Hydropower Project. Although drinking water is the first priority for any society and this is enshrined in the National and State Water Policies, there is no system in place to allocate the waters of these dams to the downstream, when there is dire need. During this drought, which is possibly Independent India’s worst droughts, Tata Dams have released nearly no water to the Bhima Basin and Maharashtra Government on its part has taken no stand on this issue.
After raising this issue several times at many platforms, SANDRP has sent a letter to the Prime Minister as well as to the National Human Rights Commission on this issue. If you agree with the points raised in the letter below, please send similar letter to the authorities. Continue reading “Letter to PM: Devise a policy for curbing hydropower water diversions during drought years”