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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Rains not cause of Pune floods, encroachments are: ex-civic chief Zagade

Zagade claims that every two-three years Pune floods during the monsoon because encroachments linked to building permissions result in changes to the flow of natural streams, which causes the floods

pune Updated: Sep 28, 2019 16:36 IST
Abhay Khairnar
Abhay Khairnar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Former Pune municipal commissioner Mahesh Zagade.
Former Pune municipal commissioner Mahesh Zagade.(HT FILE)
         

Floods in Pune because of canals and streams overflowing due to heavy rain is the “municipal administration’s sin”; this is former Pune municipal commissioner Mahesh Zagade’s pronouncement in the wake of at least 18 people having died in the city on Thursday.

Heavy rain on Wednesday night caused the Ambil odha (stream) and other smaller canals to overflow, inundating housing societies, roads and slums with water and claiming lives and mass destruction of property.

On Friday, Zagade also declared, “Their (PMC) sensitivity towards citizens is dead.”

Zagade, drawing on his years of experience in the city’s hot seat, explained, “Rain is not the cause of floods, but the encroachments in various canals and natural streams in Pune city are. Canals have also been altered for various buildings and roads in the city.” 

Zagade was municipal commissioner when Bavdhan and Baner flooded in 2010.

“The main reason for that flood was encroachments on the Ramnadi river,” says Zagade. 

Zagade claims that every two-three years Pune floods during the monsoon because encroachments linked to building permissions result in changes to the flow of natural streams, which causes the floods.

Zagade said, “When I was municipal commissioner, Pune faced floods in Bavdhan and Baner. The administration told me that only the rains were responsible. Then I, along with some municipal officers, decided to inspect the canals, in minute detail. We would start at 9am and inspect till 5pm.” 

He added, “I had shown the media and administration how canals are blocked at various places, either for roads, or buildings, or slums. I raised the question, how did these buildings get permission? I did not get a satisfying answer.” 

“Against this background, I moved a proposal to appoint a high court judge to lead a committee to fix the responsibility of altering water bodies in the city. Nothing came of it,” said Zagade.

Nixing the committee

Mahesh Zagade had put the proposal for a committee headed by a high court judge before the Pune Municipal Corporation, to keep a check on city canals and encroachments. The scope of the committee was also to check on building permissions along canals given in the development plan. The standing committee did not approve the proposal. As soon as Zagade got transferred, the elected members scrapped the proposal.

First Published: Sep 27, 2019 14:19 IST

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