MoEF team visits Dev Nadi, Mutha

Environment activists say ministry experts agreed with them that channelisation of Dev Nadi by civic body caused destruction of natural flow of river, biodiversity; detailed report to be submitted in Delhi next week

Activists from Baner Area Sabha and NGO members from Jal Biradari had an in-depth discussion with the expert team from Ministry of Environment and Forests who visited Dev Nadi in Baner yesterday afternoon. Reportedly, MoEF found that the PMC has channelised the width and depth of the Dev Nadi and destroyed the natural flow and biodiversity in and around the river.

Inspection: MoEF expert team, PMC officials and environmentalists visit
Dev Nadi in Baner. Pic/Ishan Ghosh

Janak Daftari, Anupam Saraf, Sunil Joshi and Vinod Bodhank were among the environmentalists who discussed the Dev Nadi issue with the MoEF expert team. The eco-activists said that the cement channels PMC constructed on Dev Nadi have restricted the seepage of water because of which wetlands around the area have dried up. The activists have asked MoEF experts to see to it that the same does not happen with other rivers.

The team of experts
The expert team comprised MoEF Director (Bhopal) Dr Ajay Mehrotra, official from Central Institute of Road Research Dr Neeraj Sharma and ex-officer from National Environmental Engineering Research Institute Dr Apurv Gupta. The team also visited road construction works near Mutha river basin near Viththal Wadi off the Sinhagad Road. Environmentalists in the area said that Dev Nadi was channelised seven metres from its earlier natural flow of 40 meters and this has helped the builder lobby grab area from the land near by. They further said that the PMC has constructed underground pipelines at Leher complex near Bombay-pune bypass to channelise the flow of the river.

"This is an insult to an old river," said Anupam Saraf, the resident of Baner and activist from Jal Biradari. Geologists Wagabalkar and Dr Krishnamurthi said that this action was automatically disturbing the ground water movements, which was evident from the ground water study Pune University had conducted in the area. According to Krishnamurthi, Ram Nadi is a significant river that is 21 km in length with an original width of 40 meters. "Nobody should tamper with the nature by restricting the river flow," he said. Dr Gupta has instructed PMC officials to provide details of the days that witnessed heavy rainfall along with information from IMD to support it.

He said that channelisation of the river is a known technology all over and we must also listen to the PMC before taking any action as even the civic body has experts in field of river engineering and hydrology.
"The report of the visit would be written today and submitted to MoEF in Delhi next week, he added."

500 km
Total length of rivers and nullas in the city

The high court order
Baner Area Sabha and Jal Biradari had filed a writ petition against PMC in the Bombay High Court on April 2011 over the channelising of the flow of Dev Nadi. The first interim order by the court was to stall all construction in an around all rivers and nullas in Pune. The second interim order was issued on October 18 by the high court, maintaining the status quo.

The other side
VINAY Deshpande, PMC head of Nulla Works, said, "Work at Dev Nadi is not completed as yet, we have made a stop gap arrangement to prevent a  flood like situation in Baner. The 7-meter width of cement channels will only quicken the flow of water at 11 cubic metres per second during the monsoon. Our priority is to stop the storm water threat to the nearby residents." He also said that as per the PMC records, the areas surrounding Ram Nadi
were not wetlands.

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