HT Investigation 7:
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HT Investigation 7: BJP, NCP leaders fail residents

Residents of Wakad, Hinjewadi and other areas of western Pune say that the water shortage has only been worsening in the last four years

pune Updated: May 25, 2018 14:57 IST
Hindustan Times, Pune
Some of the larger housing societies such as Kunal Icon of Pimple Saudagar have installed water meters and have changed existing pipelines to fight the water crisis. (RAHUL RAUT/HT PHOTO )

In the last four years, the dependence on water tankers in the western Pune suburbs like Baner, Balewadi, Pashan, Pimple Saudagar, Wakad and Hinjewadi has continued to increase, frustrating housing societies and residents on the failure of the Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad municipal corporations to address the demand for water effectively.

Some of the larger housing societies such as Kunal Icon have installed water meters and have changed existing pipelines while some others such as Rohan Nilay and Roseland Residency have recharged their bore wells and have implemented rain water harvesting within their societies. These measures have helped to some extent but has not entirely resolved the crisis of poor water supply.

“We approached our corporator as well as the MLA with our water woes which we are facing for the past 3 to 4 years. Finally Medha Kulkarni, MLA , Kothrud, FROM BJP and Jyoti Ganesh Kalamkar, corporator, BJP corporator together came to inaugurate a new pipeline in Baner- Pashan in February this year but it remains a pipeline which has no water. The continuous road work has broken the pipeline,” said Seema Agarwal, a resident of Kumar Shanti Niketan on Baner Pashan link road.

“The work is going on at a very slow pace and we are suffering. We neither have proper road nor do we have water.

pace at which work is going we are suffering at either side, no proper road nor do we have water. It is totally dissatisfactory. Why are residents made to run from PMC to road department to contractor to resolve these issues?” Agarwal asked.

A member of Baner Pashan link road vikas samitee said the residents also approached the BJP corporator from Balewadi, Amol Balwadkar who fought for water through his public interest litigation(PIL). “He was surprised too and was unaware of the delay in the water pipeline,” the resident said.

Balwadkar in his PIL blamed “indiscriminate construction” in areas like Baner and Balewadi as the cause for the water scarcity and poor water supply.

He stressed that the construction activity was putting pressure on the civic water supply and sought a stay on the issuance of commencement and occupancy certificates by PMC despite the water woes continuing even after the inclusion of Balewadi into PMC 15 years ago. This was the main reason for deficit of water supply in the these areas, he said.

A team from HT has found that even after his PIL and intervention from the high court, there have been societies in areas like Veer Bhadra Nagar and the new Baner Road which are still using tankers for their water supply.

Situation in Pimple Saudagar, Wakad

The residents of Pimple Saudagar and Wakad have been facing acute water problem for many years. Sudhir Deshmukh, a resident of Su Casa Society in Wakad said, “We are facing water problems since 2013 and there is no choice but to rely on tankers as we have 180 flats. We have approached everybody from Mayur Kalate, corporator, Wakad, NCP to Sandeep Kaspate, corporator, BJP, Tushar Kamthe, corporator, BJP (PARTY XYZ) DESIGNATION, Mamta Gaikwad,PCMC standing committee chairman, BJP and Aarti Chondhe, corporator, BJP of ward 26 in Wakad. We even approached Laxman Jagtap, MLA, Wakad, BJP and city president, PCMC. We had a lengthy discussion with him and he has assured us of proper water distribution. The water we get in Wakad is not even close to 50 litres per capita, while other areas in Pimpri Chichwad Municipal Corporation( PCMC) get more than 100 litres per captia.”

Deshmukh added that there is only one water storage tank in Bumkar chowk which distributes water to the area and the infrastructure is bad with old water pipelines.

Similarly, the residents of Kunal Icon too had approached Vitthal (Nana) Kate, who is the corporator, NCP for Pimple Saudagar who helped them get extra pipelines but even after that they still require water tankers.

“This year, we have initiated aerator fitting project and we may implement water tank project and rain water harvestingwhich will solve our problem,” said Pravin Dhole, resident of Kunal Icon.

Water shortage has worsened in Hinjewadi

“Hinjewadi has become worst because from the time of possession, we are buying water from tankers. This is the case with almost all societies. Hinjewadi gram panchayat openly says that they don’t have enough water. We are dealing with Tulsiram Raykar, gram vikas officer for Hinjewadi and Sagar Sakhare, former sarpanch of Hinjewadi. The scheme was for bringing water from Kasarsai dam but the scheme fell off as politicians opposed it,” said Ashok Gosavi, a resident of Hinjewadi.

According to Anshul Gupta, a member of Hinjewadi residents association, “We didn’t reach out to politicians, instead we reached out to Maharashtra industrial development corporation (MIDC) for help. We expected the senior officers of MIDC to release more water to Pegasus Properties Pvt Ltd as more than 20,000 people reside in the society and relying on water from tanker alone is not possible. After several follow-ups, the situation improved for a brief period. We are again on same track and have to call for approximately 40 tankers per day. Though MIDC is aware and cooperative, we hope to find a solution soon.”

Both politicians and bureaucrats disappoint Wagholi residents

According to Jugnu Doshiand Shailendra Kesri, two active residents of Solacia co-op housing society, phase 2 at Wagholi, the situation with regards to water scarcity has worsened during the last three years.

“Everyone is in business of earning money keeping citizens suffering. Water tanker rates have been increasing at an exponential rate every year. No one is in position to take care of citizens. Rather no one is taking cognizance of citizens’ plight. When we resist, the tanker prices are hiked by tanker mafia threatening the citizens,” Doshisaid.

According to these office bearers of the housing society, they have been interacting with the BJP MP Anil Shirole who directed them to the PMRDA Commissioner Kiran Gitte. “He listened to our pleas and started investigation on the water crisis in Wagholi. Surprisingly he budgeted Rs. 25 cr for Wagholi Water Scheme and after few months he turned back 360 degrees clarifying this amount is not for Wagholi alone but for six villages including Wagholi,” Doshisaid.

The residents then met BJP MLA Baburao Pacharne who assured to talk with guardian minister Girish Bapat for help with subsidized Water Tanker from PMC. Doshisaid Pacharne wrote to Bapat and the then PMC commissioner Kunal Kumar with request to provide subsidized Water Tanker to us. There has been no response till to date.

Shiv Sena MP Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil held a meeting in the Circuit House with Zilla Parishad CEO Suraj Mandhare and PMRDA CEO Kiran Gitte on the same issue of the water crisis in Wagholi. “The PMRDA CEO informed us about water scheme and demanded Rs. 8 cr contribution from the residents for the water scheme. The discussion is still in process as we have opposed this,” Doshisaid.

The residents also appealed to chief minister Devendra Phadnvis seeking his intervention. Fadnavis directed the residents to meet Gitte and Mandhare. “We contacted both as per CM’s instructions but they they did not respond to us which is disappointing. The most painful thing is both the CEOs have blocked our contact numbers and we are not able to contact them,” Doshisaid.

The residents of Wagholi are disappointed that neither the politicians nor the bureaucrats have been performing as expected even though the citizens are suffering.”Both are public servants and are supposed to be on public duty on 24X7 basis. Both are holding important and responsible positions hence must be accessible to public all the time. Blocking of number goes against principle of accessibility,”Kesri said. They are now at a loss as to who will address their plight.

And the leaders say.....

“It is my duty to help people who approach me regarding their civic issues, which includes water problems. Basic amenities must be provided in the first place and then smart city work must be implemented. The government is planning for the next 50 years and will give amenities in accordance with that planning. There is a time-bound solution for each of the issue. We are planning to give a long-term solution to the water issues of Wagholi and other suburbs in eastern Pune which were merged with the city recently.” - Anil Shirole, MP, BJP

“I am in regular touch with two associations. I am aware of the water, garbage and connectivity issues. Unfortunately, the builders do not focus on these aspects in their planning and common people have to suffer. I have written to the collector several times asking them not to give permission for any further projects, unless there are guaranteed solutions for transport, water and proper garbage disposal. While Zilla Parishad says that they doesn’t have the resources, MIDC says these issues are beyond their boundaries. There needs to be a meeting with all the stakeholders on board. As the member of Parliament, I can highlight these issues and be the bridge between administration and common people.” - Supriya Sule, MP, NCP

“ I am aware of the water deficiency in my area (Wakad and Pimple Saudagar). This problem is faced by residents during the months of April and May and I am trying to resolve it. We are working on a 24-hour water supply scheme. The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation needs to be firm about the illegal puncturing of the water line. In many areas we have noticed and pointed out to the ward officers about these illegal lines. In some areas, the opposition party is allowing residents to approach us over the issue.” - Laxman Jagtap, MLA, BJP

“We have been providing free water tanker from the PMC to the parched areas of NIBM and Mohammadwadi. In NIBM, we eliminated the water-tanker mafia with the help of a citizens’ movement and will do the same in Mohammadwadi too. Water-tanker operators cannot take the residents for a ride. I will always stand by Mohammadwadi residents for their water and civic rights.” - Nanda Lonkar NIBM Mohammadwadi corporator, NCP

Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil, MP, Shiv Sena was on a tour and was not available for comment.

First Published: May 25, 2018 14:46 IST