Hyacinth menace breeds mosquitoes as PMC waters down the issue

Lack of coordination between Pune Municipal Corporation’s health department and transport department over the removal of the dangerous invasive plant.
Water hyacinth covers Pashan lake in Pune on July 27. PMC transport department officials said that they had agreed to only provide vehicles and equipment for the removal of hyacinth, while the main responsibility lay with the health department.(MILIND SAURKAR/HT)
Water hyacinth covers Pashan lake in Pune on July 27. PMC transport department officials said that they had agreed to only provide vehicles and equipment for the removal of hyacinth, while the main responsibility lay with the health department.(MILIND SAURKAR/HT)
Updated on Jul 28, 2020 04:37 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | ByNadeem Inamdar

Pune: The Covid situation has impacted various civic works in the city, including removal of hyacinth from water bodies. Lack of coordination between Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) health department and transport department over the removal of the dangerous invasive plant has left residents living on the banks of lakes complain about increase of mosquito intensity in their localities.

In May, PMC under former civic chief Shekhar Gaikwad had decided to hand over the hyacinth removal work to transport department as the health department was busy tackling the coronavirus situation.

The surface of Mula-Mutha riverbed, Nanasaheb Peshwe lake, Sarasbaug Peshwe Park lake, Pashan lake and the Mula-Mutha stretch from Sangamwadi till Mundhwa Jackwell project are covering up with hyacinth.

As a standard practice, hyacinth is removed before monsoon by the health department with the help from regional ward offices. Though the transport department was tasked with the removal process, the release of tender has ran into issues leading to the department asking its health counterpart to complete the task.

Officials of the transport department, on condition of anonymity, said that the department had agreed to only provide vehicles and equipment for the removal of hyacinth, while the main responsibility lay with the health department. However, the health department officials maintained that the onus laid with the transport department for keeping water bodies clean.

RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar alleged that the hyacinth tender is a moneymaking exercise. “Whatever be the crisis, work at the corporation for the benefit of citizens’ health must not be stopped, ignored or delayed. Water hyacinth could cause many health issues for residents and it is harmful to the aquatic life. PMC should have completed the cleaning task before monsoon,” he said.

Pashan resident Satish Pande said, “This year too, hyacinth removal work has been delayed, and Covid-19 situation has added to our woes. Residents have reported of suffering from fever and dengue,” he said.

Despite many attempts, PMC health chief Ramchandra Hankare could not be reached as his phone was switched off. Pune mayor Muralidhar Mohol said that the civic body will ensure that the hyacinth is removed at the earliest. “Our health department has a big task to handle. Hence, we will take help from different departments to address this issue,” he said.

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