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PMC faces protests from locals as it tries to remove illegal shanties near Ambil Odha, state govt asks it to stop

Pune has witnessed flooding of the Ambil Odha for the last few years due to encroachment on the stream at various places. As per the law, nine meters of land on both sides of the stream are considered a green zone, and no development activities are permitted in the area.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: June 25, 2021 10:24:43 am
“The PMC had issued notices to the occupants of huts to vacate the land but they failed to do so. Thus, the anti-encroachment drive was undertaken,” said a civic officer. (Express photo by Ashish Kale)

Tensions ran high during an anti-encroachment drive by the Pune Municipal Corporation on Thursday when civic and police officials faced protests as they tried to remove illegal shanties along side the Ambil Odha near Dandekar bridge.

The drive was eventually suspended after a local court issued a stay order, and even the Maharashtra government intervened in the matter and directed the PMC to immediately stop it.

Ambil Odha starts at Katraj lake and ends at Vaikunth crematorium. A patch of nine metres on both sides of the stream has been declared as a green zone and no development activities are permitted in the area.

However, several shanties have been constructed in this area, which have blocked the flow of water in the stream, leading to flooding in slum areas as well as nearby housing societies.

“The PMC had issued notices to the occupants of shanties to vacate the land but they failed to do so. That’s why the anti-encroachment drive was undertaken,” said a civic officer.

Elected representatives from all political parties had also raised the issue in the recently-held General Body meeting, where the civic administration was taken to task for not removing the encroachments.

Mayor Murlidhar Mohol said the civic body should have taken the affected people into confidence before launching the drive. (Express Photo by Ashish Kale)

However, during the drive on Thursday, several residents of the slum area protested against the civic action, and the situation quickly turned tense.

Mayor Murlidhar Mohol said the civic body should have taken the affected people into confidence before launching the drive. “The encroachment has to be removed to widen the Ambil Odha stream from 8 metres to 24 metres, alongwith straightening its path against the existing curve, which was causing floods. But it should be done only after properly explaining the situation to local residents. The PMC will provide temporary accommodation to all 130 houses that were demolished in the drive,” said Mohol.

In a press statement, Deputy Chairperson of state Legislative Council Nilam Gorhe said that state Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde has ordered an immediate stay on the PMC anti-encroachment drive. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Shinde, Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil and officers of PMC and the Slum Rehabilitation Authority also held an online meeting to resolve the situation at Ambil Odha.

Hundreds of police personnel along with PMC officials were deployed to demolish the slums near Dandekar Bridge on Thursday. (Express Photo by Ashish Kale)

“The state government will not allow anyone to become homeless. The affected people are being given temporary accommodation and would be provided with permanent houses in the future,” said Shinde during the meeting.

Gorhe also said that a local court has put a stay on the drive till July 7 and urged the PMC to resolve the issue at state level.

Meanwhile, NCP and Congress, which are in opposition in the civic body, slammed the PMC action. “The action is unacceptable in the current pandemic situation and during monsoon season. The ruling BJP has no control over the civic administration,” said NCP leader Dipali Dhumal, who is also the leader of opposition in PMC.

Congress leader Ulhas Bagul said the civic administration had ignored the encroachments when they were coming up and had started taking action during monsoon. “The way action has been taken against shanties in Ambil Odha is wrong. No one other than the civic administration was aware of the drive. The poor are being made to suffer…,” he said.

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