No water for areas of east Pune from Bhama Askhed dam till July 2019

Farmer agitations, coupled with PMC’s inability to finish the ~300 crore water-supply project on time, had made the July 2017 deadline unachievable

pune Updated: Jun 19, 2018 16:35 IST
Abhay Khairnar
Abhay Khairnar
Hindustan Times, Pune
The Rs 380.17-crore project, with 200 MLD (million litres per day) capacity, envisages supply of water from Bhama Askhed dam in Khed taluka, 48 km from Pune, to eastern Pune.(RAHUL RAUT/HT PHOTO)

Residents of water-scarce areas of east Pune, including Ahmednagar road, Wadgaon Sheri, Kharadi, Dhanori, Wagholi, Chandannagar and Kalyaninagar, will have to wait for at least one more year to get a consistent supply, as the new deadline for the completion of the mega Bhama Askhed water supply project has been rescheduled to July 2019.

The Rs 380.17-crore project, with 200 MLD (million litres per day) capacity, envisages supply of water from Bhama Askhed dam in Khed taluka, 48 km from Pune, to eastern Pune. The project was designed to meet the drinking water needs of 14.5 lakh residents spread over 58 km in eastern Pune and was originally scheduled to be completed in July 2017. However, as per the latest update, the new deadline is July 2019 as a result of delays caused by the farmers’ agitation.

The failure of PMC in providing drinking water in eastern Pune led to the emergence of the water tanker mafia, which has been exploiting the situation to the hilt.

Due to political opposition in Khed taluka, mainly by Suresh Gore, Shiv Sena member of legislative assembly (MLA), and Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil, member of parliament (MP), the project was delayed by two years. The local Shiv Sena leaders did not allow PMC to lay the water pipeline. They were supported by local BJP workers and PMC’s equipment and machinery on the site was vandalised multiple times.

Despite an intervention from then deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray, the project was not able to kick-start for almost two years.

Finally, Pune municipal commissioner Saurabh Rao, who was the Pune district collector earlier, took a tough stand before joining PMC and instructed police to file cases and arrest local residents for interrupting water pipeline laying work. It helped the municipal corporation restart the work again.

Sudesh Kadu, executive engineer, PMC, who is in-charge of the project, said, “PMC has decided to not touch the 1km water pipeline under fire and will proceed to complete the rest of the work. Except an 8km stretch near the dam, the work is more or less complete. Construction of the jack well (pumping station) will take more time as there are three slabs.”

After completing the work, PMC will need one or two months for testing the pipeline. Considering the time required to complete all these procedures, PMC has kept July 2019 as the target for finishing the Bhama Askhed project, added Kadu.

PMC SC members want work to be speeded up

Standing committee (SC) members of the Pune municipal corporation and Jagdish Mulik, member of legislative assembly (MLA) from Wadgaon Sheri, visited the Bhama Askhed dam on Sunday and instructed the administration to speed up the jack-well (pumping station) work near the dam.

They also decided to call an urgent meeting with the divisional commissioner to sort out various issues of local farmers. Yogesh Mulik, chairman of the standing committee, elected members, MLAs and PMC officials were among those who conducted the site inspection of the ongoing construction work near the dam.

Mulik said that the needed to speeded up to sort out the aggravating water problems in the eastern part of the city. Farmers have some issues, but the government is in favour of sorting it and the divisional commissioner will take necessary steps for it, he added.

The administration was also asked to provide more police protection while the water pipeline is being laid.

VJ Kulkarni, head of PMC’s water department, said that only a 6km stretch of the water pipeline remains to be constructed. PMC had acquired 1,750 hectares from 23 villages for erecting the water pipeline and for conducting other necessary works.

Work done on site during May

The Pune municipal corporation (PMC) dug a tunnel below the Bhama Ashkhed dam to water at the bottom of the reservoir during the summer months. The tunnel work is nearing completion and once the whole project is complete, PMC will conduct a lake tapping exercise to start water flow through the tunnel.

The contractor is currently undertaking the work below the water and is digging open channels to connect the closed tunnel.

Sudesh Kadu, PMC’s executive engineer, said that the work is almost complete. The total length of the tunnel is 210 metre, of which, 130 metres is a tunnel below the ground, followed by open trenching of 80 metres under the water.

Kadu said, “The main purpose of the tunnel is to tap water from the bottom and bring it into the jack well. Usually, in summers, dam water levels are below average and it is not possible to bring the remaining water into the reservoir. The project identifies the lowest level of the dam and the tunnel will bring water from the level to the jack well. ”

Kadu said that this is the first time that the municipal corporation has undertaken a project of this kind by appointing expert contractors, who are experienced in working on such projects.

First Published: Jun 19, 2018 16:30 IST