Yet another hurdle comes in the way of the Metro project for Pune with the realignment of a route shifted alongside Mutha river from JM road being challenged in the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
In an Environment Interest Litigation (EIL) filed by Rajya Sabha MP Anu Aga, senior journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, civic activist Sarang Yadwadkar and Arti Kirloskar have expressed concern over the realignment of a Metro route done alongside the Mutha river.
“The Metro rail had a route passing through the JM road but there was opposition to it. Thus, its realignment has been done with the rail route realigned alongside Mutha river,” Aga told mediapersons. She said they were not against the Metro project but was challenging the alignment of the Metro route through the river bed. “The construction would create a risky situation as there would be obstruction in free flow of water,” Aga said.
“Any construction below the blue line on the Prohibitive Zone is complete violation with the NGT directives and the circular issued by the state government. There is going to be construction of many pillars for the elevated Metro rail. Also, three Metro stations are proposed on the 3.5 km stretch,” petition said.
The Metro route from Vanaz to Ramwadi enters the Mutha riverbed behind Savarkar Smarak on Karve Road, then proceeds up to PMC Bhavan and exits the riverbed to proceed towards Food Grain Godown behind the Civil Court. Three Metro stations are proposed on the riverbed at Deccan, Sambhaji Park and PMC building.
In case of an emergency, Yadwadkar said it would be difficult to carry out rescue operation as the route passes through the riverbed. The petition has been admitted by NGT West Zone Bench comprising Justice Jawad Rahim and Ajay Deshpande. A notice has been issued against the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), Divisional Commissioner, Joint Director of Town Planning, Maharashtra State’s Urban Development Department, Union Ministry of Urban Development, Managing Director of DMRC, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and the Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board directing them to remain present and to file replies before the NGT on July 7 2016.
“It is important to understand that even if Riverbed Roads or Metro tracks or Metro stations are constructed on RCC pillars, it will not be a construction across the riverbed at a single location, like a bridge, but along the river, for several kilometres, causing continuous resistive obstruction to the natural flow of river in the congested parts of the city. Such continuous impediment to the free flow of river will be an open invitation to natural calamities,” he added. The Metro Project in Pune would have to be substantially altered if the concerned authorities fail to convince the NGT that it does not threaten the safety of the citizens or cause damage to the environment, Yadwarkar said.
In Vitthalwadi Riverbed Road case, NGT ordered that, “No encroachment is permitted and no construction in future is permitted inside the blue line of the river Mutha.”
However, PMC and other authorities are yet to wake up to the situation, he added.
Mayor Prashant Jagtap said there are deliberate efforts to stall the implementation of Metro rail project. “It is due to the BJP leaders that the realignment of Metro route was done and now it being challenged at NGT so that there is further delay. We have been urging the state as well as the Centre to start the implementation of the Metro rail project with the best-available aligned route,” he added.