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Civil society members want detailed clarification on riverfront project

Civil society organisations and citizens have written to Pune municipal commissioner Vikram Kumar expressing serious concerns and demanding a public presentation of the riverfront rejuvenation and improvement project
By Prachi Bari, Pune
PUBLISHED ON APR 21, 2021 09:18 PM IST

Civil society organisations and citizens have written to Pune municipal commissioner Vikram Kumar expressing serious concerns and demanding a public presentation of the riverfront rejuvenation and improvement project.

Many organisations have also requested a rethink of the entire project.

They have raised concerns on the lines of flooding, destruction of the river ecosystem, biodiversity, and have demanded a public presentation of the project.

“The project does not address the core issues of water quality and need for scientific ecological restoration of the degraded river ecosystem, and it proposes to narrow the river channels with a view to commercialising adjoining land which is currently within the flood lines, putting lives at risk and destroying biodiversity for commercial interests,” said Shaileja Deshpande of Jeevit Nadi.

Deshpande also pointed out that a hydro-geological study has not been done.

“As a group of concerned citizens and civil society organisations, we want to understand the proposed River Rejuvenation and Improvement Project in detail,” said the letter addressed to Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) commissioner Vikram Kumar.

The PMC, PCMC, Cantonment boards are to jointly take up this project for which a special purpose vehicle will be set up but what the members fear that the project is ill-conceived and will add to issues of river flooding, and destruction of the river ecosystem and biodiversity.

The members have raised questions about how the project will benefit the residents of Pune.

“The key issues related to the river systems in Pune include pollution, primarily due to untreated sewage in flows, encroachment, degradation, and destruction of the right of way of the river, banks, riverbed, channel and other physical attributes of the river due to the construction of roads, metro pillars, dumping of debris have reduced the carrying capacity of the river,” stated the letter.

“Given the situation of climate change and the impacts Pune is already facing, the priority of river-related projects should be to improve the city’s resilience to extreme rainfall, flash floods, and restoring the degraded river ecosystem. These urgent needs are not considered. The city should focus on projects to improve resilience, and not land development and beautification,” said Sanskriti Menon, Centre for Environmental Education (CEE)

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