Five years after the Rs 400-crore Maval closed pipeline project came to a halt, the 35 km project — from Pavana Dam to Pimpri-Chinchwad-will most likely take off with the District Collector, Saurabh Rao, indicating that the “issue has been almost resolved”.
“After the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) has given its decision that the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) can lift water directly from Pavana Dam through a closed pipeline for three months of the year and nine months from the river, the PCMC has agreed to it and it had to. The District Guardian Minister, Girish Bapat, has held a meeting with farmers who have sought 15 days time to get back to us,” said Rao on Wednesday — echoing the same view that was made during the Idea Exchange at the Indian Express office last week.
The District Collector said the administration was confident that they would be able to address the issues raised by the farmers after the MWRRA decision. “The farmers are worried that once the water is lifted through the pipeline, River Pavana will become a dead river. They have also expressed their concern over river pollution. Besides, they are worried if villages downstream will get sufficient water or not,” Rao said. All their concerns have been addressed by the District Guardian Minister and the administration. “After that the farmers have sought time at a meeting held about three weeks back, we are waiting for their response and hopeful that the long-pending issue will be resolved,” he said.
The PCMC, however, has a different take on what the collector says. While the collector, quoting the MWRRA directives, says the civic body can lift water for three months, PCMC has interpreted the MWRRA fiat as lifting water for eight months. “What we gather from the MWRRA orders is that we can lift water directly from Pavana Dam for eight months of the year and four months during the rains from the river at Ravet,” said Ramdas Tamble, executive engineer, PCMC. “We have a booklet pertaining to the orders of MWRRA and in it, it is written like that,” he said. Meanwhile, the collector said the PCMC has no option but to accept the directives.
The closed pipeline project was planned to provide clean water to 18 lakh population of Pimpri-Chinchwad. Since it was stalled five years back, its cost escalated.
According to officials, the cost escalates by 10 per cent every year, besides there are other expenses that are not in the tender process. The project cost as estimated today goes beyond Rs 600 crore. The PCMC said the civic body has spent Rs 142 crore in laying the four-km line so far. The PCMC had planned to lay two pipelines of 1,800 mm diameter for the 34 km route straight to Pavana Dam located in Pavananagar area of Maval taluka.
On August 9, 2011, three Maval farmers had been killed in police firing and several injured after their agitation against the pipeline project turned violent. The farmers were protesting against the project from Pavana Dam to Pimpri-Chinchwad.
The farmers feared that they would be deprived of their share of water once the pipeline is laid.
After the firing incident, the project came to a halt. Even as the state government ordered a probe, the farmers approached the Maharashtra Resources Regulatory Authority to address their grievance.