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PMC officials skip meeting with NGOs on river project

After long wait, activists learn babus can't make it for talks to sort out differences over Rs 99 cr Mula-Mutha restoration plan

Officials of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) did not show up at an important meeting that was to discuss viability of setting up a sewage treatment plant on the banks of Mula-Mutha under the Rs 99-crore river restoration project yesterday. 

They cited personal and professional reasons for their absence. The meeting was convened by environmentalists protesting against the project that, they say, also includes diversion of the river. The officials were supposed to give a presentation on the sewage treatment plant to be set up on the banks of the water body in a bid to convince the activists that it would not have an ill effect on the river. 

After making the activists wait for an hour, the officials -- including development engineer (water supply) Vijay Kulkarni, additional city engineer (special projects) Srinivas Bonala and environment officer Mangesh Dighe -- sent messages saying that they won't be available for the meeting due personal and professional reasons.

According to civic body sources, Kulkarni's brother had expired, so he had to rush to Belgaum early in the morning. Bonala and Dighe sent messages saying they could not attend the meeting as they were busy with an internal meeting at PMC headquarters. 

Also, the meeting was to discuss the exclusion of the navigation plan from the project proposed by the PMC in the earlier presentation. Challenging the restoration project, environmental activist Sarang Yadwadkar said the proposal was irrational and even it was rejected by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the Central Design Office (CDO) of the irrigation department, Nashik, on various grounds. 

"Sewage treatment was not the only thing we wanted to discuss as there are lots of other issues regarding Mula-Mutha that were to be discussed," said Sujit Patwardhan of NGO Parisar. Bonala, Dighe as well as Kulkarni did not respond to calls despite repeated attempts.

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