Shailendra Patel, diminutive and fast-paced, was leading me through a maze of barbed wires, construction debris and iron fences. Pigs and dogs looked up at us with surprise. This was a treasure hunt. With us was Tushar Sarode from Jeevit Nadi. After sliding down a precarious mound of construction debris, the treasure shimmered before us. In the middle of a chaotic Pune suburb, surrounded by a garbage dump, an urban drain and mountains of concrete emerged a sparkling, babbling little spring. It was this spring that Shailendra Patel has been protecting for the past 5 years. If it were not for him, this pool with darting fish and water sliders would be buried under a luxury apartment or a road.Continue reading “A Spring in a City: Struggle to save a tiny spring is a touchstone of our priorities”
Several bridges, old and new crisscross over the rivers Mula and Mutha in Pune. Some of them are old and stately like the Lakdi Pul built over 250 years ago or the beautiful Shivaji Pul, while there are low ones like the Baba Bhide Bridge, which routinely gets submerged in the monsoons.
I try to walk across these bridges on most evenings.Continue reading “Bridges of Pune and the People who Stop and See”
Krishna basin is again facing unprecedented floods, for the second straight year. Unprecedented is a bit of overused word these days, but consider the facts: At no less than ten locations, the Highest Flood Levels (HFL) ever recorded at those locations in the Krishna basin were surpassed (nine locations) or equaled (one location). Some of the HFLs surpassed this year were amazing 56, 51 and 44-year-old records! And imagine most of this happening in second half of Oct 2020, when South West monsoon is traditionally over by end of Sept! There is no doubt the floods were unprecedented.Continue reading “Krishna-Bhima basin floods in Oct 2020 breaks 56-year-old record”
For the past few years, I walk along the bridges and riverbanks of Pune, taking pictures of the unique happenings here. I have made several silent friends who sit at the riverbanks grazing their cattle, or recline on the bridges, looking at the river. As a photographer, their body language and stories have fascinated me, as has the river.Continue reading “Photo Story:Worm Collectors of a Polluted River”
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
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”