Confirming the seriousness of the encroachment issue in and around Mula, Mutha and Pavana rivers, a committee constituted by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has recommended immediate action by the authorities concerned and urged them to take steps to prevent any further encroachment.
“Based on observations made during inspection of the rivers by the committee, facts mentioned by the applicant were found to be correct. Due to encroachment near the rivers, their discharge-carrying capacity is decreasing day by day and causing flood situations,” the committee stated as its conclusive observation in the report.
The plea pointing out the encroachment and pollution in these rivers was filed in the NGT by Sarang Yadwadkar, Narendra Chugh, Vivek Velankar and Dilip Mohite months ago. In July, the western bench of the NGT had directed the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) to ensure that debris were no longer dumped in the rivers. The Tribunal had also constituted a committee to inspect the areas near the river to ascertain if the allegations of encroachment made in the application were accurate, and take appropriate measures accordingly.
The committee has pointed out that the river and their flood zones have been encroached on by unauthorised constructions, as well as the dumping of debris and other material. “The unauthorised constructions and encroachments should be identified jointly by the PMC, PCMC, Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority and state Water Resource Department by September 20,” it stated.
The panel also found that untreated domestic waste water was being released in the rivers through drains and nullahs, while untreated effluent was being released by an industrial estate. “The practice of dumping solid waste in the rivers should be stopped by the authorities concerned…,” stated the panel.
The PMC, PCMC and PMRDA should immediately start removing unauthorised constructions and encroachments near the river, stated the committee. It suggested that the civic bodies and agencies should use satellite images of the rivers as references to ascertain the extent of encroachment, and take measures to control it.
The committee cited specific instances of encroachment and observed that debris was being dumped in Mutha river on both sides of Nanded-Shivane bridge, alongside Dangat Patil Industrial Estate, near Sambhaji Park and Deccan areas during the construction of metro rail route, and near Sangam bridge.
“An area of 2,000 sq metre has been created on banks of Mula-Mutha river, near the Boat Club, by dumping debris… around 40 temporary sheds and shanties have been constructed, with the PMC providing facilities like drinking water and sanitation to them,” it stated.
The panel found that riverside encroachment was one of the reasons behind the flood-like situation in Pune in August. The frequent dumping of debris alongside Mula river, according to the committee, led to a rise in Mula river level in August, and the flooding of Jupiter Hospital and areas in Balewadi. Committee members also warned that dumping of debris in Pavana river — near Sangvi, Dapodi, Kasarwadi bridge and Pimple Saudagar bridge — has affected the flow of river and could cause serious problems in the future.
Yadwadkar, part of the group which had filed the application in NGT, said, “The root cause of the recent floods in Pune is clear. It is now up to all of us to put pressure on authorities and see to it that all encroachments are removed from riverbeds immediately, and not delayed on the pretext of the election code of conduct. Political parties also need to make their stand on all these encroachments clear,” said Yadwadkar.