Panned for ad hoc development near water bodies, civic body may now be forced to stall all works till Ministry of Environment and Forests completes court-ordered inspections, report
The Pune Municipal Corpor-ation (PMC), which has often been under the scanner for carrying out ad hoc development work on the rivers and their natural surroundings, may now be forced to stall the proposed beautification work on Bhairoba and Osho nullah, Pashan, Katraj Lake and a river at Yerawada, for which Rs 19 crore was sanctioned.
Several environmentalists and activists have objected to various works near the Mula-Mutha river
Sources have revealed that the PMC will have to wait for a Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) report and suggestions before carrying out any kind of construction and beautification work on the water bodies.
Last week, the Bombay High Court had directed the MoEF to conduct inspections by visiting the rivers on November 3, in the presence of environmentalists and civic officials, following which the MoEF officials would give a hearing to the petitioners after deciding the date.
The MoEF officials will visit locations such as Devnadi, Ramnadi and Mula Mutha river, where activists will illustrate the environmental damages.
Opposing the beautification plan, environment activists have opined that instead of beautification, money should be utilised on disinterring the storm water drains from the water bodies and constructing them along road sides, as per the 1987 Town Planning Act.
The activists also expressed their demands stating that the corporation, before carrying out any beautification work, will have to present a dossier of the projects to the citizens in the locality and also seek advice and get signatures of experts and activists, before setting up the projects.
The proposal for the beautification of rivers and nullahs, however, has not yet been finalised.
Environmentalist Anupam Saraf said, "The civic body has failed to make alternative sewage lines and instead of clearing the water bodies and removing the sewerage lines, they want to create more constructions."
He added that since the court has issued an order against any work in the water bodies, even a proposal or any planning on the river bed could be contempt of the court.
Echoing his views, river activist, Sarang Yadwadkar, said that at this stage beautification is ridiculous as cleaning of garbage and removal of encroachment is a prime need.
Shivaji Sapkal, the executive engineer of road and storm water drain department, said, "The court has disallowed construction on the rivers, but has not passed judgment about its beautification. We'll wait for the environment ministry to visit the rivers and only then carry out the plan."