Expanding Pune: Private water monopoly of tanker owners bane of Kharadi, allege residents
One of Pune’s most cosmopolitan areas, Kharadi faces acute water scarcity, unfinished development projects and a tanker water-supply mafia
Kharadi was merged into the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in 1997 along with 22 other villages. Though it has transformed into an IT hub in the recent years, the area currently faces severe water scarcity and water tanker services run by private players are the sole source of roughly 50 per cent of water supply to the area, which has over one lakh residents living in plush residential societies.
Eastern Kharadi is a well-known IT hub with the likes of Zensar, EON IT park,and three towers of the World Trade Centre dominating the skyline, giving it a complete cosmopolitan look. Kharadi is situated on the banks of the Mula-Mutha river along the Pune-Ahmednagar state highway. A bypass road connecting the Pune-Ahmednagar state highway to the Pune-Solapur national highway passes through Kharadi. The suburb is well connected to other parts of Pune city as well.
The major issue that the residents of Kharadi, where more than 100 townships have come up in a short span of time, face is the acute shortage of water. Due to this, residents have to depend heavily on water tankers. Apart from the huge cost of such tankers, the water provided is also of poor quality and unhygienic, allege residents. This also means that housing societies have to bear the additional burden of running water treatment plants at their own expense. “There is an urgent need for a dedicated water supply to the area. The PMC, instead of spending the tax payers’ money on paying tankers, must facilitate water supply infrastructure in the area. This will be extremely helpful to the residents,” said Kharadi Housing Society Welfare Association chairman Nitin Memane.
The area offers excellent connectivity to all neighbourhood suburbs the city. The Mundhwa-Kharadi road connects it to the Mumbai highway, which is about 7km away. It also connects Kharadi to the Pune Nagar road which runs along its northern periphery. Besides, it is well connected to all areas in its vicinity, including Kalyaninagar, Vimannagar, Chandannagar, Yerawada, Wadgaon Dhayari and Mundhwa. The Pune railway station is about 11km away while the Lohegaon Airport is about 7km away, along the Nagar road
More than 70 per cent of the residents of eastern Kharadi are IT professionals hailing from different parts of the country, who have made the area their home now. Prominent real estate developers who have built landmark residential and commercial projects in the area are Panchshil, Gera ,Marvel, Vascon and Ganga builders.
The eastern area of Kharadi adjoining Wagholi village border has been developed through public private partnership (PPP) by Panchshil. According to residents, the development standards in the area are higher when compared to that of many projects planned and executed by PMC.
Kharadi’s political leadership has always been dominated by the former member of legislative assembly Bapusaheb Pathare and his family since it was a gram panchayat. Later, the family maintained its political control in the municipal corporation as well, bagging four seats.
Many amenities such as play grounds, auditoriums, gardens, bus depots and post offices, were planned for Kharadi when the area was merged with PMC. However, all these projects have remained on paper for more than a decade and even today, it seems like a distant reality in terms of implementation. No bus service is available beyond Kharadi gaon, which is about 4-5km from Kharadi .
Kharadi Housing Society Welfare Association, formed about two and half years ago, has been consistently pursuing issues regarding the need for civic facilities with the local leadership and administration. They have been fighting for the cause of democratisation of water rights and had appealed to the government to end the alleged water tanker mafia and supply monopolies which have consolidated in the area in the past decade. The housing association’s chairman Nitin Memane maintains that a transformation change in the administrative and political mindset of the PMC is necessary to cater to the “mega urban needs” of the area and the city.
The vision and motto of housing association is CGS (Clean -Green -Safe) Kharadi. They had also organised freedom runs such as 'Run for water' and 'Run for Green Kharadi' to spread awareness abut the issues the residents of the area face. The housing association has planted nearly 1,600 trees to maintain the green cover of Kharadi.
They are also trying to develop a four-acre playground near EON IT zone with help of the local leadership and administration, but the work is progressing at a very slow pace.