'Separate dam a political gimmick'
The demand for a new dam for the city is not a new one, as many politicians have raised the issue before. Recently Minister of State for Urban Development Bhaskar Patil agreed for a new dam during discussions in the state assembly.
Social activists are against the idea, but are instead emphasizing on proper water management measures by the Irrigation Department to resolve water stock issue. They claim that politicians are merely using false promises and assurances to woo the public and they could use the ruse for years to come.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Bapu Pathare put forth the first demand for a separate dam for the city two years ago. He had said, “Providing water to the agriculture sector may not have been an issue if the city had ample water by having a separate dam.”
Party leader Ajit Pawar, who was then irrigation minister, however had ruled out the possibility, stating that the idea was impracticable and difficult to enforce due to space crunch.
Congress MLC Deepti Chaudhari, who was former mayor of PMC, raised the same issue two days ago. “Out of 26 TMC of water, where did the 9 TMC go before the scorching summer,” she asked.
She alleges that the water was given to the agriculture sector, especially for sugarcane crops in the adjoining catchment areas near Khadakwasla, Temghar, Varasgaon and Panshet dams. Congress MLC Mohan Joshi and Shiv Sena MLC Dr Neelam Gorhe supported Chaudhari’s allegation.
Reacting to the ongoing debate, social activists and NGO members Vivek Velankar, (Sajag Nagrik Sangha), Sudhir Kulkarni (Nagri Hakka Samiti) and Vijay Paranjpye (Gomukh) came together and raised their voices against the idea of having a separate dam for the city.
Velankar said, “Constructing a separate dam is not only a funny idea, but a popular political gimmick to woo Punekars with false assurances. Politician can continue with this for the next 10 to 20 years. Treated water in sewage treatment plants can be supplied for agriculture purpose, thereby allowing for the city will to get adequate water stock.”
Kulkarni also agreed with Velankar and said, “There is no need for a separate dam for Pune. The storage capacity for any of the dams can be enhance by seeking technical help. Announcing a separate dam for Pune is a big joke,” Paranjpe said, “When the city already has four dams, why is a separate dam required?
The irrigation department should make proper water management measures without coming under any kind of political pressure. Assuring a new separate dam is a simple excuse for doing nothing but killing time.”
Avinsah Surve, superintendent engineer, Irrigation Department, ruled out the possibility of constructing a new dam near Khadakwasala. He said, “Constructing two TMC dams at Tekephal and Gondephal area near Khadakwasala may not help to get an assured water supply for the city. This can curtail the existing water stock from Ujani Dam.”
Meeting confirms no dam coming
After the joint meeting between Irrigation Department superintendent engineer Avinash Surve, PMC Mayor Vaishali Bankar, Nationalist Congress Party MP Vandanan Chavan and PMC commissioner Mahesh Pathak, it was officially declared that there may not be one day water shut downs unless the efforts on lifting water quantum from Khadakwasala dam goes down to 900 MLD from the present 1,100 MLD.
“We are also controlling excess water supply to the areas by using water controlling valves. This exercise will continue till the monsoon arrives. Otherwise one day a week water cuts will be evident, if our efforts fail,” Pathak said.
He added that in an effort to curb water leakage, 3,000 hi-tech valves are being fitted on the water supply pipelines. Chavan said that the April 7 meeting of irrigation department with deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, who is also guardian minister of Pune district, has been scheduled for a long term planning of water supply. She also ruled out the possibility to get a separate dam for the city.