It seems that the illegal matka den operators in Pashan have no fear of police. Yet again, the Pashan Lake project, which has received funds worth several crores under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), has started attracting miscreants as a full-fledged gambling den is operating at its premises. Bird watchers and people visiting Pashan Lake for morning walks are a harried lot.
In March last year, Newsline had exposed how this matka den was operating in Pashan lake premises and causing a problem for locals, particularly bird watchers.
A day after the Newsline report, the Pune police raided the matka den and made some arrests. However, the matka den started operating on the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) footpath, on the main road towards Suratwadi from Pashan circle, at a location just about 200m away from Pashan police chowki and about a 100m from the office of local corporator Sushma Nimhan.
The police raided the spot in December as well and closed the matka den. But now, the matka den has again started flourishing at a place proposed for a bio-diversity park, which is an important part of the eco-restoration project of the Pashan Lake, being done under the JNNURM.
Local residents, who come to Pashan Lake for morning walks said the matka den began operating in early morning hours and then continued for about 10 to 12 hours till late evening.
Interestingly, police personnel claimed they had no information about the illegally-operating matka dens. Residents claimed it was impossible that such illegal activities that happened at prime public places were not known to the police. Residents also said senior police officers should probe whether matka den operators were hand-in-glove with the local police.
A bird watcher who regularly visits the lake said, “This gambling den has made our visit to Pashan Lake a nightmare. The miscreants, including liquor addicts, who come here for gambling, not only sit near the barrage but also on the other side of the lake where there are nestings of a lot of birds. In the morning, one can see many liquor bottles on the ground and pieces of paper and polythene strewn all over, making the place deplorable. Fearing these anti-social elements, a lot of nature lovers have stopped visiting the lake. The den cannot operate without the blessings of the local police.”
On Tuesday, when The Pune Newsline report informed police inspector Subhash Nikam about the illegal matka den in Pashan lake premises, he said he would look into the matter.