Wanowrie residents up in arms over crematorium, biogas plant

People living near Salunkhe Vihar Rd fed up with stink, say they want 'promised' recreation ground or fire station instead

IF you plan to buy a flat near Salunkhe Vihar road in Wanowrie, be warned that you will have to put up with the smell emanating from a biogas plant and a crematorium-cum-cemetery that are nearby.

Residents of the area say the biogas plant as well as the electric crematorium and burial ground constructed by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and local political leaders are the result of inconsistent and improper town planning as the whole open space is being misused.

The site of the electric crematorium and the biogas plant in Wanowrie; garbage being burnt as the biogas plant is non-functional; Delmar Towers behind the crematorium and the biogas plant

Residents say the biogas plant is not even in use and garbage is simply burnt, leading to air pollution. They are demanding a recreation ground or a fire station be built there instead, as they claim this was what the corporation had promised earlier.

The residents of complexes at Clover Village, including Delmar Towers, Dorabjee Enclave, Churchill Court, Arlington Court, GulMohar Society and Apex Serene, have been facing a tough time as they have to deal with the everyday nuisance of garbage burning.
And at times they can even see the dead being buried in full view at the funeral facility that was built in the Nala Garden in 2006 with the aim of cremating bodies in a scientific manner.

When residents started setting up base in the area in the late 90's, they were not informed by the builders that the ground (Ward 70) was reserved for a crematorium. They claim the builders and the PMC contractors told them that the place was reserved for a recreational ground.

"Most of the buildings in the area were built between 1998 and 2002, while the crematorium was constructed in 2006. It was only when we saw dead bodies being brought there we realised that it was a crematorium. We have been fighting over this for the past five years, but to no avail," said a resident of Arlington Court.

According to the Land and Estate department in the PMC, it was decided in the 1963 town planning proposal that the site was reserved for a crematorium and sooner or later one was bound to be built there.

Misled, say residents
Residents say they were neither given any notice nor informed about the plan, and if they had known they would not have bought apartments there.

"The contractors, we were told, had proposed to build a recreational park with leisure facilities for the elderly and children, which never happened. The space is simply being wasted," said a society member of Churchill Court.

The society members had several meetings with former corporator Mahadev Babbar and corporator Shivajirao Kedari and implored them to stop the crematorium work, but claim the project was instead pushed ahead.

The residents had even filed a PIL and managed to get a stay order from the court, which they say was overturned because of some discrepancies.

"We asked the PMC that when it had planned to build the crematorium, why did it give permission for building housing complexes close to it.
There are already seven crematoriums in the area, which are hardly being utilised. Barely one or two bodies are brought in every month or two," said a resident. "What was the point of building another one?"

A PMC official said the civic body could not be blamed if the residents had not made proper enquiries before shifting to the area.

"The residents should have done their homework before buying the apartments," said the official.

Trees chopped
Residents also claimed that about five months ago workers from the adjoining factories run by private owners chopped down several trees, including gulmohar trees, outside the crematorium to make space for vehicle parking.

"Earlier, one could even find carcasses of animals like dogs and piglets near the entrance of the park, which would not be cleared for days.

Property rates here have fallen drastically as people are not willing to buy flats and the existing ones are difficult to sell. Also, the number of stray dogs has increased in the area," said a resident.

Now the residents plan to come together again and meet the corporator of the area to try to remove the crematorium and compel the municipal authority to come up with a recreational park there. "All society members have agreed to spend money and make a playground there," said a resident.

The residents have suggested that a recreational park and a playground for senior citizens and children be built at the spot.

Pramod Yadav, who looks after the biogas plant, said, "We have blacklisted the plant there as it is not functioning, but we can't say what decision can be taken for the crematorium."

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