PMC agrees to 11.5 TMC water supply to satiate Pune’s 17.5 TMC demand; agreement with irrigation department formalised
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has drafted an agreement with the state irrigation department stating Pune’s water quota as 11.5 thousand million cubic feet (TMC), despite the current water demand of the city being pegged at 17.5 TMC.
The draft prepared by water resource department was formalised on Monday.
PMC water department head VJ Kulkarni, said, “Our demand is for 17.5 TMC and we have submitted our demands to the irrigation department. However, the irrigation department officials cannot take a decision on it without the state cabinet’s approval. The earlier agreement is terminated and our new demand of 17.5 TMC has not been approved yet, so at the request of the irrigation department, the PMC is signing the agreement for 11.5 TMC water supply.”
With the state government yet to be formed, the process of getting approval for the city’s new demand has been withheld. The PMC’s agreement with the irrigation department, which is renewed every six years, ended in August and was for 11.5 TMC water supply to the city. The civic body will now sign another agreement, according to which the city will get 11.5 TMC water every year till 2025.
Kulkarni added that if the PMC does not sign the agreement, drawing of water for the city since August, would be considered as illegal and the irrigation department can then charge additional water lifting fees from the PMC. “To avoid these technical issues, the PMC is signing the agreement, but once the cabinet is formed, the irrigation department will submit the PMC’s proposal to the cabinet and the Pune district guardian minister for revision,” said Kulkarni.
However, elected members of the PMC have raised several objections to the agreement. Congress leader Arvind Shinde said, “Instead of drafting a 11.5 TMC agreement, ideally the PMC should have made it clear that this is a temporary agreement and our demand for 17.5 TMC is constant. We have been demanding additional water quota since the last five years, but the BJP government did not take a decision about it. Instead, the government added more surrounding villages within the PMC limits.”
Opposition party leader Dilip Barate said, “The irrigation department has earlier seized PMC’s electric pumps for not paying the bills and for lifting additional water. During the Congress and NCP tenure, the irrigation department never took any action against the PMC.”
Barate also raised questions over the charges applied by the irrigation department and various dues written off to the PMC.
Kulkarni agreed that the irrigation department had sent inflated charges for the water tax. Earlier, they had sent a bill of Rs410 crore, but later when the PMC objected to it, the bill was reduced to Rs150 crore. “As per the PMC’s accounts, the civic will not able to give more than Rs95 crore to them. Recently, the PMC paid Rs25 crore to them. The irrigation department has also defaulted and have failed to pay the taxes to the PMC for their properties,” said Kulkarni.
Bhama Askhed project in limbo
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) got permission from the state government to draw water from the Bhama Askhed dam in 2015 and the central government also allotted funds for executing the project.
However, the project has seen zero progress as farmers and some political party workers are opposing the project. The state government even agreed to give additional compensation to farmers for land acquisition for constructing the dam, but despite that the farmers have stopped the progress of the laying of the water pipeline since the last four years. The PMC started the work in the presence of police officials and even filed cases against some agitators, however, the progress has been negligible.