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Illegal land reclamation on Mutha riverside in Pune, threatens water flow

Civic activists blame Pune Municipal Corporation for turning a blind eye to the activity that is damaging the riverside

pune Updated: May 30, 2019 16:22 IST
Abhay Khairnar
Abhay Khairnar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Civic activists say that the land near river at Sangamwadi, reclaimed by filling it with debris, is used for various purposes, including parking of luxury buses.(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

A large stretch of Mula riverside at Sangamwadi is illegally reclaimed by unknown persons, posing threat to free flow of water and danger of flooding during monsoon. The land is used by luxury buses to pick up and drop passengers.

Residents claim that debris is dumped on the lands near riverbed to increase its level. Civic activists blame the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for turning a blind eye to the activity that is damaging the riverside.

The PMC has served notices to those who own the lands near the riverside where dumping is rampant. Activists point out that the land near riverbed reclaimed by filling with debris is used for various purposes, including parking of luxury buses.

As per the development control norms, even as the riverbed land is private, no activity can be carried out in areas marked as blue line, marked as the flooding extremities of a river.

Environment activist Sarang Yadwadkar said, “All departments, including irrigation, Pune Municipal Corporation and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board are responsible for such illegal land reclamation. Anybody can see the rampant land reclamation activity at the riverbed blue line. It raises doubts if the administration and the people dumping debris are hand in glove in carrying out the illegal activity.”

According to Yadwadkar, land reclamation on riverbed is a clear indication of posing flood-like situation in the city. “By ignoring the debris dumping activity, the authorities are playing with the citizen’s life with the monsoon approaching,” he said

Rajendra Raut, PMC executive engineer and incharge of river project, said, “The civic body has served notices to the land owners directing them to remove debris immediately, and discussed the issue with the municipal commissioner. The notices have been issued under Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 (MRTP Act).”

Activists claim that debris has not been removed from the riverbed despite PMC issuing notices.

Saurabh Rao, Pune municipal commissioner, had recently given instructions to all the regional ward officers to carry out 24x7 vigilance at the Mutha riverbed to check dumping of debris. The commissioner also instructed the civic administration to provide vehicles to staff patrolling the riverbed.

A PMC official said that as rivers come under the irrigation department, it should take steps to check encroachment of riverside.

Despite repeated attempts, irrigation department officials could not be reached for comment.

First Published: May 30, 2019 15:52 IST