Kharghar residents want cycle track around pond but it is filled with debris

Updated: Nov 23, 2019, 07:56 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Earlier, after residents complained about debris being dumped at one of the ponds, CIDCO had barricaded the area.

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Kharghar residents' dream to have a cycle track around two ponds might not become a reality, thanks to the illegal land-filling work going on at one of the sites. Earlier, after residents complained about debris being dumped at one of the ponds, CIDCO had barricaded the area. But recently some locals spotted similar work being carried out at the second pond and informed CIDCO. However, no action has been taken yet.

Swach Kharghar Foundation (SKF), a citizen group, is concerned about the systematic manner in which one of the two natural ponds behind Bharati Vidyapeeth, sector 7, CBD Belapur, is being filled with construction debris, with an intend to reclaim the land. The residents have raised the matter with CIDCO, but if they fail to get a response, they plan to approach the court.

There was no fence around one of the ponds earlierThere was no fence around one of the ponds earlier

Mangal Kamble, president of SKF, said, "We never knew that Kharghar had such a beautiful location, and people with vested interests are trying to exploit the area by dumping debris. They have already reclaimed three-fourth of one of the ponds."

When asked how they came to know about the ponds, Kamble said, "On April 2018, former principal of Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Engineering, M Z Shaikh, had written a letter to us seeking our help in planting 1,000 saplings inside and behind the campus. Since it was a good initiative, I wrote to CIDCO requesting them to level the access roads and beautify the surroundings, so that we could plant the saplings. Unfortunately, CIDCO never acted on that request and the plantation drive never happened."

"Recently when we again visited the location, we found trucks parked in the area and construction waste being dumped in one of the ponds. We objected to it and raised the matter with CIDCO officials to stop the same," she added. She further said, "We won't allow these natural ponds to be destroyed by land grabbers. We will be after CIDCO to beautify the area and make a cycle track around the ponds. If this place is not protected, we will take the matter to court."

It was barricaded later after locals complained
It was barricaded later after locals complained

Sanjay Pudale, executive engineer of Kharghar nodal agency, said, "We have received a complaint about construction debris being dumped in one of the ponds behind Bharati Vidyapeeth. CIDCO has barred all dumping activities in the area, since local residents complained about it. Also security guards have been deployed at the entrance to prevent trucks from entering the location. Even after this if illegal activities happen, then we will register a police complaint."

"We had received a letter from Bharati Vidyapeeth site engineer J B Thorat, seeking permission for dumping debris in the area. But I told him about the residents' complaint and said that debris would not be dumped there. Directives have also been given to the site security guard," said Pudale.

Speaking about the cycle track, he said, "It is a good concept but CIDCO has to plan it. If we are informed about it, then we will do the needful."

When mid-day visited the spot on Friday, a security guard was seen at the entrance, but on the way back around noon, the cabin was found locked.

When contacted, an official from the CIDCO planning department said, "I haven't come across the proposal for a cycle track yet. It might be with my seniors. Though we are supposed to carry out a site visit."

The security post at the entrance to the two ponds"
The security post at the entrance to the two ponds

Meanwhile, Dr Sandhya Jadhav, principal of Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Engineering, said, "At present, no construction activity is happening inside the campus. We do have a five-acre plot outside the compound wall, which might be developed in future."

J B Thorat, site engineer of Bharati Vidyapeeth, said, "I had met the Kharghar nodal agency's executive engineer on Friday morning to seek permission for dumping a small amount of debris in the area, but permission wasn't granted."

Rubbishing CIDCO's claims, Kamble said, "CIDCO itself had given permission to a construction company to dump debris behind Bharati Vidyapeeth near the proposed science park, but due to lack of supervision, debris was dumped in the pond instead. Almost three-fourth of the pond has been covered, and now CIDCO is trying to be ignorant. Just last week we spotted a truck full of construction debris near one of the ponds, and upon questioning, the driver said that the company owner had obtained a permission from CIDCO."

The pond where debris was dumped recently"
The pond where debris was dumped recently

"We did not allow the workers to dump the debris in the pond. When confronted, the security guard said he knew nothing about it. They are just passing the buck," added Kamble.

She even showed a letter dated January 23, 2019, (copy with this paper) wherein CIDCO AEE (Kharghar-1) has approved the disposal of surplus excavated material near the proposed science park.

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