The ongoing spat between the ruling alliance partners, the BJP and the Shiv Sena, in the state government, is now spilling over into the districts. The Shiv Sena has taken on the local BJP leadership and stopped the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) project of laying a pipeline from the Bhama Askhed dam to the city. The reason, the party says, is the failure of the state government to resolve issues of farmers of villages where the pipeline is being laid.
“The guardian minister (Girish Bapat of BJP) is acting like a dictator. Villagers stopped the PMC work. It is a reaction at the local level. Next time, the agitation will be more intense and thousands of farmers will take on the state government,” said Shiv Sena MP Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil, who represents the parliamentary constituency in which the villagers took up the protests.
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He said, “We have been making two basic demands since the beginning of the project. The first demand — farmers, whose lands have been acquired, should be given a fair compensation. The second — water from the pipeline be supplied to areas like Alandi and some other villages along the pipeline area.”
Patil said if water from the Bhama Askhed dam could be taken to Pune to meet the requirements of the city, there should be no problem in giving a minute portion of it to a few villages on the way. “These demands are not being met, but the work on the pipeline is being continued,” he added.
Shiv Sena MLA from Khed constituency, Suresh Gore said, “There are several issues which are still unresolved, and despite our repeated demands to hold talks, nothing is happening on that front.”
“It is a question of compensation and rehabilitation of 1,140 farmers. The administration does not even have the exact figure as to how many cases have been settled,” he added.
The PMC has a deadline of completing the project by December 2016. The project was started under JNNURM to meet the increased water needs of the city residents. It is now being proposed to be included in AMRUT after the Union government stopped JNNURM.
Of the 42-km pipeline to be laid from the dam to the city, the work for 18-km pipeline has been completed. The work on the treatment plant and the jackwell along with the pumping station was going on Thursday.
Now, the protest has stalled the work of laying the pipeline. The PMC has approached the district collector to resolve the issue and restart the work. “The protestors have no issue with the PMC, but are upset over pending issues not being resolved by the state government. Thus, the municipal chief has written to the collector to conduct a meeting with the protesting villagers and sort out their issues,” said a civic officer.
He said the protestors were demanding that a meeting should be called to address their demands. He added, “The PMC officers will meet the collector and inform him about the villagers’ demands. We will urge for a meeting immediately to ensure that the work is not stalled for long.”
Incidentally, the Sena has also led a protest against the PMC over its plan to acquire forest land in Pimpri Sandas for setting up a garbage processing plant as suggested by the BJP-led state government.
The guardian minister was unavailable for comment.