The future of the Rs 400-crore Pavana pipeline, the work for which came to a halt in 2011 after three protesting farmers were killed in police firing, looks uncertain as the ruling BJP does not seem keen to continue with it. Party leaders on Wednesday said they were instead exploring the possibility of building a number of lower-capacity dams to cater to different parts of the industrial town.
“I don’t know whether we will continue with the project. It will be decided only after the Model Code of Conduct ends, after which we plan to hold a meeting on the issue,” said BJP’s Pimpri-Chinchwad president Laxman Jagtap. The ruling BJP and its alliance partner, Shiv Sena, have been under fire for doing little to restart the stalled project.
When asked if the party was in favour of discontinuing the project, Jagtap said they had not yet reached a decision, given the opposition from farmers and villagers in Maval. “We have not taken any decision. We will take a decision whether to wind up the project or to restart it in a couple of weeks,” he said.
“There are three rivers flowing through the industrial city. We believe if smaller capacity dams are built on these rivers, we will get enough water to all the areas throughout the year,” he added. Jagtap said the BJP is yet to initiate discussions with irrigation or dam experts in this regard.
“There are several instances in the state and elsewhere in the country where smaller dams have been constructed and are doing fine. Even in Pune district, there are some smaller dams,” he said, adding that such dams would not create problems regarding land acquisition and displacing people from their homes.
The BJP’s Pimpri-Chinchwad president said alternative solutions may be necessary to resolve the stalemate with the protesting farmers. “They fear that their sources of water will run dry once the direct pipeline is set up from Pavana dam to Pimpri-Chinchwad,” he said.
Meanwhile, activist-turned-politician Maruti Bhapkar, in a memorandum submitted to PCMC chief Shravan Hardikar, said efforts should be made to resolve the current stalemate.
PCMC officials said the contractor of the stalled project has decided to quit, and so the corporation will call for fresh tenders for the project. “We will have to pay some compensation to the contractor in terms of construction of the 4.5-km pipeline and guarding it as per the terms of the contract,” said joint city engineer Makrand Nikam.