Free rivers of encroachments, demand activists from city

ST Correspondent
Monday, 12 August 2019

“National Green Tribunal (NGT) was unfortunately becoming a pet in the hands of the government,” activist and advocate Aseem Sarode said. He said judges and expert members were appointed by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, which was involved in various cases. That was an issue of political interference tampering with the only justice system related to the environment, he said.

PUNE: A declaration to free rivers of encroachments and concretisation was made by environmentalists and citizens to keep the city flood-free during the next monsoon at a discussion held at Patrakar Bhavan, Navi Peth on Sunday.

Activist Sarang Yadwadkar said, “Under the Pune River Rejuvenation Project, floodplains and riparian zones are set to be concretised for commercial use. The breadth of the rivers will be reduced. If this happens, the floods will hit the city. Under this project bunds were to be made in the city river. Due to this, river water gets stagnated.” 

Activist Anupam Saraf said, “There were 450 stretches of rivers in Pune and they have been channelled through concretisation which was stopping the rainwater and surface water. These activities can be 70 to 80 per cent reversible only if we stand for the rivers to keep them safe, clean and beautiful.”

Activist and former deputy director (R&D) of GSDA, Shashank Deshpande, said, “New hydrology study has to be made to understand the scenario of the water and rains. There was scope of harvesting 30 per cent of rainwater. Through concretisation the flood intensity increases and water runoff decreases.”

“National Green Tribunal (NGT) was unfortunately becoming a pet in the hands of the government,” activist and advocate Aseem Sarode said. He said judges and expert members were appointed by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, which was involved in various cases. That was an issue of political interference tampering with the only justice system related to the environment, he said.

MP Vadana Chavan said, “A demand list should be made by citizens and submitted to the civic body. This would help it look into the issues in a prescribed manner.”

Rajeshri Tikekar and Nity Shah, residents of Prathamesh Park, Baner which was flood-hit said, “Our house was underwater for two days in a row. Now the problem is that the civic body has refused to clear the furniture and we do not know what to do with it.” 

Rahul Ghatge, a flood-affected resident of slum area in Aundh said, “The people living in bungalows or flats shifted to relatives’ houses, but what about us. We stayed in corporation schools until the flood water receded. We were always scared of the monsoon, because construction activity keeps happening near the river bank and we have to face the 
side-effects.”

Declaration at Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad Flood 2019 Public Meet

  • Return back river land to river.
  • Remove legal, illegal encroachments on river, nalas and catchment of rivers on war footing. 
  • Mark Blue line and Red lines of rivers as per original marking. 
  • There should not be any encroachments in rivers, nalas and catchment areas. 
  • Need to protect river catchment areas in natural form and restore its natural form if destroyed. 
  • Identify and confirm responsibility of respective authority (government representative and administrative people). Hold them responsible for destruction of water sources, paths and bodies (rivers, nalas, hills and catchment areas) for which they are responsible.

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