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Canal repairs: Irrigation dept, PMC passed buck with no action from politicians

On Thursday, after disaster struck the area following a breach in the wall of the canal near Janata Vasahat, near Dandekar bridge, angry residents and slum dwellers said the disaster was man-made as numerous warnings had been ignored in the past

pune Updated: Sep 28, 2018 17:17 IST
Abhay Khairnar
Abhay Khairnar
Hindustan Times Pune
Canal,Pune,Irrigation Department
Water flooded the area near Dandekar Bridge after a wall of Mutha canal collapsed due to unknown reason in Pune, India.(Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)

Although the Irrigation department, Pune Municipal Corporation and the political leadership were well aware of the need for repairs on the numerous cracks and leakages in the Mutha right bank canal wall, the matter was neglected over the years.

On Thursday, after disaster struck the area following a breach in the wall of the canal near Janata Vasahat, near Dandekar bridge, angry residents and slum dwellers said the disaster was man-made as numerous warnings had been ignored in the past.

Former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar who had a controlling influence in the Pune Municipal Corporation, and Pune’s guardian minister Girish Bapat were also aware of this situation and had discussed this issue in various meeting. The Irrigation department and PMC had also exchanged several letters on the canal issue which indicated that the authorities were well aware of the matter.

Pune Mayor Mukta Tilak said, “Yes, even the PMC had written to the Irrigation department. However, this is not the right time to blame one other. Priority should be given to help the people first.”

A few months ago, the Irrigation department had written to the PMC demanding that it bear the cost of canal maintenance as it was lifting water from the Khadakwasla dam. The PMC rejected this saying that the civic body was paying for the water and it was primarily irrigation department’s responsibility to do this work on its own cost.

The Khadakwasla Divisions executive Engineer P B Shelar said, “It is true that Irrigation department asked the PMC to share the cost but as they denied to share it, recently the irrigation department had floated the tender for reparing work for the begaining portion of the canal.”

He said, “Various issues have to be addressed while carrying out repairs. Firstly, the irrigation department cannot stop the water supply from this canal as this supply is for Pune’s daily requirement. Maintenance work cannot be undertaken without stopping water supply for a few days. Also, there are numerous encroachments on this canal due to which machinery cannot be moved to some spots.”

A PMC official speaking on anonymity said undertaking canal repars is not the responsibility of the PMC. “Why should PMC bear this huge cost, as along with PMC, water is also supplied for agriculture.”

First Published: Sep 28, 2018 15:42 IST