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Brakes on ambitious bicycle tracks plan as civic body diverts funds to pay water charges

The civic administration proposed that it was possible to divert the Rs 50 crore meant for the cycle track project to pay for the water charges to the irrigation department.

Brakes on ambitious bicycle tracks plan as civic body diverts funds to pay water charges The civic body has diverted Rs 50 crore of the Rs 55 crore allocated for bicycle plan.

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)’s ambitious plan to promote the use of bicycles in the city is all set to go off tracks as the civic body has diverted Rs 50 crore of the Rs 55 crore — allocated for the development of basic infrastructure for it: bicycle tracks and stations — to pay for water charges to the state irrigation department.

“The civic administration had proposed the diversion of Rs 50 crore, meant for bicycle infrastructure, to pay for the water charges demanded by the irrigation department,” said Yogesh Mulick, chairperson of the standing committee. He said the irrigation department has demanded Rs 224.53 crore from the PMC as water charges as per the revised rates fixed by the Maharashtra Water Resource Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) for the water drawn by the civic body.

The civic administration proposed that it was possible to divert the Rs 50 crore meant for the cycle track project to pay for the water charges to the irrigation department. The PMC draws water from the Khadakwasla irrigation circle to meet the drinking water demand of the city. The irrigation department submits its bill on water charges every two months. In February 2018, the department submitted the rates for water based on consumption.

The civic body had made a budgetary provision of Rs 28.79 crore for paying the water charges in 2018-19 considering the revised rates. Thus, there is a shortage of funds to pay the water charges as per the revised rates and the dues of previous year. The irrigation department had allocated 11.5 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) for the city along with a 10 per cent rise as per need. Thus, the PMC was eligible to draw 12.65 TMC for the city. However, the MWRRA, during a hearing on water supply, fixed the quota at 8.16 TMC for the PMC.

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The civic administration said the MWRRA decision was without considering the water consumption in two Cantonment Board areas, hospitals, schools, Race Course, railways and gram panchayats adjoining the city. The PMC draws 17 TMC water in a year and, with the
8.2 TMC fixed for the civic body, a large quantity of the remaining water is being charged as per the rates for increased consumption.

Accordingly, the irrigation department has demanded Rs 224.53 crore as water charges. The civic body had earlier paid Rs 65 crore to the irrigation department and has now sanctioned an additional Rs 50 crore by diverting funds meant for cycle track.

Bicycle plan

In December last year, the PMC general body approved the comprehensive bicycle master plan for the city to build 470 kms of cycle tracks, stands and introduce a public sharing of bicycles scheme.

The scheme

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The PMC appointed private companies to start the public sharing of bicycles scheme by making available one lakh bicycles for use on rent. The scheme was first started by the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd in Savitribai Phule Pune University and Aundh in January. It was also implemented on JM road, Magrapatta and agriculture college.

Cycle tracks

New cycle tracks were built by the PSCDCL in Aundh, Baner and Balewadi. However, the civic body has not been able to add to the cycle infrastructure.

First published on: 18-12-2018 at 08:26:06 am
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