Water conservationist Rajendra Singh has strongly opposed the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC’s) Rs 2,618-crore river beautification plan for the makeover of rivers that flow through the city. “The PMC should work towards protection of rivers, rather than their beautification,” said Singh after he held a meeting with Municipal Commissioner Kunal Kumar to discuss the issue. On Wednesday, The Indian Express had reported on the PMC’s river beautification plan for the development of the 44-km river stretch passing through the city, including a 22.2-km stretch of Mula river, 10.4-km stretch of Mutha and 11.8-km stretch of Mula-Mutha river.
It proposes setting up 36 immersion tanks for the ‘visarjan’ of Ganesh idols, as against the existing 16. The plan has proposed doubling the number of ghats from 20 to 40, and setting up 240 more access points against the existing 53. The PMC has also proposed setting up a barrage near Garware bridge on Mutha river. While boating facilities are available in two locations — at the COEP boating club and near Mula-Pacana Sangam — the plan has 16 new locations for boating facilities.
However, Singh said “disturbing” the stretch of river passing through Pune would directly affect the city. “The river is in a bad state due to the release of untreated sewage water. There is a dire need to protect it,” said Singh. He claimed that the river beautification plan was aimed at creating an avenue for private companies to make money, adding that while a similar project had been implemented at Sabarmati, it should not be implemented in the city.
“The residents of Maharashtra are committed towards the preservation of the environment, so they won’t allow attempts to destroy the ecology of the river in the name of beautification,” Singh said, adding that he had urged the PMC to identify the river area on the basis of old maps and issue a notification about it. “I would oppose any concretisation in the Mutha river area. We would not allow Metro rail, roads or development of new ghats,” he said.