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Riverside view: Pavana, Ram & Dev flow with sewage 

‘Untreated waste, concretisation responsible for depleting ecosystem, toxic waters flowing through city’

Written by Garima Mishra | Pune | Published: January 16, 2017 7:48 am
Pune rivers, Pune polluted rivers, polluted rivers, Pune local water bodies, Pune pollution, Pune water pollution, Pune river, Pune dumping ground, indian express news Ramnadi stretches for 18 kms from Bhukkum to Baner, perennial to Mula in Baner. Till about 30-35 years ago, people residing near Baner, would use its water for drinking purposes. Currently, the river is covered with garbage, debris and sewage water. Now, one can’t even touch the water without gloves and go near it without a mask. 

Dying Rivers Of Pune-II

WHILE MULA and Mutha are the rivers that draw maximum attention, Pavana River, Ram Nadi and Dev Nadi, which also flows through the city and surrounding suburbs, are in need for a new lease of life. Just like Mula-Mutha, they too have enriching history behind them. But unfortunately like Mula-Mutha, these water bodies too have been ignored thoroughly for years and are lying polluted and untreated right now.

Pavana River 

Nearly 36 kms of Pavana River stretch up to Ravet is clean portable drinking water; PCMC and MIDC are dependent on this water. However, the rest of th e24 kms is highly polluted and heavily encroached upon.

Narendra Chug, a member of Jal Biradari and technical advisor, says that there is rampant encroachment along the entire stretch of 24 kms of Pavana River. Other than that, the river also faces dumping of debris/solid wastes. “Due to non-availability of electric power, sometimes the sewage treatment plants discharge untreated sewage, which leads to pollution.

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Additional sewage collection tank should be created or existing collections tank capacity augmented where during electric shut down the sewage gets collected and that is treated after electric power is resumed. The nallahs that carry polluted water and solid waste like plastics and cloth need to be properly dealt with. Metal gratings should be provided in the nallahs to arrest solid wastes,” says Chugh, who along with the members of the group Paawan Pavana, has been fighting to revive the river for eight years.

The members suggest that 24 milestones should be fixed from Ravet to Mula River Sangam, which will geographically divide river into 24 segments. Responsibility of each kilometre on either banks could be given to two river volunteers and two PCMC staff. These four ‘river warriors’ can jointly monitor and report progress about – Tree plantation of river banks; Encroachment and dumping of debris; testing of water quality every week, reporting of water hyacinth , among others,” says Chug.

Ram Nadi

Till about 30-35 years ago, the people residing around Ram Nadi near Baner, would use its water for drinking and cooking purposes. Currently, the river paints a depressing picture covered with garbage, debris and sewage water, and one can’t even touch it without gloves or go near it without a mask, forget drinking from it. Ramnadi stretches for 18 kms from Bhukkum to Baner, perennial to Mula in Baner.

“It’s 100 per cent polluted; there’s no life in water here. I doubt if Ram Nadi will ever be revived. It’s not in the agenda of people or the administration. Even if it was the last point in the agenda, there could have been some hope. Earlier, we thought that people who reside by the river are responsible for dirtying it. However, we discovered that those who do this do not stay in the vicinity.

People we interviewed have told us that tempos of various restaurants come around midnight every day to dump waste,” says Anil Gaikwad, founder, Vasundhara Swachhata Abhiyan (VSA), which was launched in October 2008 as a movement to clean Ram Nadi.

The VSA members visit the river once a week to carry out river cleaning, tree plantation and create awareness among people staying along the banks of the river. Anil Gaikwad, founder, Vasundhara Swachhata Abhiyan, says, “It was found that there are two main reasons for river pollution. Firstly, due to leakage of drainage pipes, sewage water and waste water going directly in the river. At many places waste water directly goes into the river due to lack of drainage lines.

Secondly, people throw all types of garbage into the river, and sadly, there is no system to restrict them.” The Ramnadi Swachhata Abhiyan consistently went on till 2012, until it hit a roadblock due to poor response from the public. The Abhiyan was restarted on October 2, 2016. “It was found that the sapling planted between 2008 and 2012 had well grown. During last four months, about 1,000 ft river bank was cleaned manually and about 10 tonnes of plastic waste was recovered and sent for recycling.

The bio-fence was constructed along the clean area. The cleaned riverbank was isolated and shortly tree plantation will be carried out. Recently, a river walk was also organised as part of the Kirloskar Vasundhara International Film Festival,” says Gaikwad.

According to Gaikwad, though a far-fetched dream, the revival of Ram Nadi can be achieved through two ways. Firstly, the government must restrict people from throwing any type of garbage in the river. Secondly, each drop generated in the river basin must be treated at stringent world standards before going to river. “The river will declared clean only when people will restart drinking water from river without treatment,” he says.

Dev Nadi

Dev Nadi originates in Baner (Survey no 36) on the left side of Bangalore-Mumbai highway and flows through nearly 20-plus survey nos. It crosses the highway and meets Mula River after covering nearly 3.5 kms. There are two big streams joining from both sides. Makarand Shende, city-based architect who has formed a group who work collectively to save Dev Nadi, says that rampant urban development has disturbed the water body to a large extent with majority of water getting collected through percolation and the aquifers getting completely destroyed by huge excavations for basements of the buildings. The streams supporting Dev Nadi, run dry except during monsoon.

In the past, the Citizens Group Baner Area Sabha, which is a part of Area Sabha Association, had filed a PIL in the high court to protect natural ecological flow of Dev Nadi and avoid any kind of concretisation. The related high court ruling dated April 26, 2012, states that tree cutting should be compensated by afforestation in green belts of 7/9 mt on both sides with the help of environment experts. According to Shende, the ruling is not followed at all.

“In fact, encroachment has happened in many places and despite continuous follow-up by Area Sabha with the PMC Tree Authority Chairman regarding initiation of the plantation programme on greenbelts around Dev Nadi, the ruling has remained only on paper.

Pointing out other parts of the high court ruling, Shende said, “While the ruling said the debris be removed with the immediate effect, dumping is going on in many parts of Dev Nadi. It (ruling) also states that PMC should maintain Dev Nadi’s original width – 25 to 40 metres varying in different patches.

Currently, it is hardly five to 10 metres, due to heavy encroachment. PMC is required to relocate all sewer lines outside the drain in order to prevent ground water getting contaminated through percolation.” “Basically, PMC has not adhered to any of court orders and Dev Nadi is in deep trouble due to negligence. To rejuvenate it, we all need to come together along with the government authorities to save ourselves from huge water scarcity and dying rivers,” says Shende.

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