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Pune’s Bhama Askhed dam: Work progresses cautiously as officials weary of erupting protests

A contractor, on condition of anonymity, said that villagers damage barricades erected along the road for safety at night.

pune Updated: Jun 19, 2018 16:53 IST
Abhay Khairnar
Abhay Khairnar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Labours busy working on a new water pipeline at Bhama Askhed Dam near Khed in Pune.(RAHUL RAUT/HT PHOTO)

The Bhama Askhed dam, from where water will be supplied to suburbs in east Pune, is located in Khed taluka, next to Chakan Maharashtra industrial development corporation (MIDC).

A recent visit to the dam revealed that work on the pipeline, which had been held up for two years, has been revived. The work on the pumping station (jack well) has also been revived and is progressing at a faster pace than earlier. The contractors have hired two boats to dig out an open tunnel in the middle of the dam.

The water pipeline work of only the last 7km is yet to be completed. Pune municipal corporation deployed only two earthmovers to carry out the work as municipal administration and contractors are weary of agitations by farmers. Contractors did not respond to emails or phone calls over a three-day period.

A contractor, on condition of anonymity, said that villagers damage barricades erected along the road for safety at night.

On the other hand, local farmers are claiming that they are now losing hope of getting any compensation from the government. The pressure from political leaders is the only reason behind PMC’s proactiveness in trying to complete the work, they alleged.

The government had constructed the dam without a canal network, rendering the water stored useless. When PMC started the water pipeline laying work to Pune city, local farmers opposed the water pipeline work and claimed that they did not get compensation for the land acquired for the project.

Ranjeet Pasalkar, a local farmer, said that they are not in opposition of providing drinking water to Pune, but before outsourcing the water from the dam, the government needs to fulfil the demands of farmers.

Ramesh Argade, another villager, said, “We tried to raise our voice for almost two years by stopping the work, but the government is putting a lot of pressure on the citizens to carry out the work. Now, villagers are also weary of getting any justice.”

An officer from PMC, on condition of anonymity, said that farmers’ demands are related to the state government. “To complete the project on time, the political leadership forced PMC to bear the compensation cost of farmers, instead of the state government,” the official said. Murlidhar Mohol, former standing committee chairman, said that the standing committee had approved the funds for compensation of farmers for the project during his tenure.

First Published: Jun 19, 2018 16:53 IST