Politicians propose,activists dispose

‘Forget new dam,focus on better planning,find alternative water sources’

Written by Express News Service | Published: April 4, 2012 2:31:04 am

‘Forget new dam,focus on better planning,find alternative water sources’

Even as the Minister of State for Urban Development Bhaskar Patil has emphasised on the need to build a new dam to meet water requirements of the city,civic activists maintain that instead of building a new dam,the city needs to focus on better planning,increasing its water use efficiently and exploring alternative sources of water. They claim that construction of the new dam will only benefit the “dam lobby” and not the citizens.

To a question raised by local MLC Dipti Chaudhari in Legislative Council on water shortage in the city on Monday,Patil said as it was getting difficult to get enough water for the city,the state government along with the PMC should work towards building a new dam for the city.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar,who is also the Guardian Minister,had made a similar statement last month asking the PMC to build a new dam if it is not getting enough land from the existing dams.

This move has not gone well with activists who are claiming that instead of constructing a new dam,the city needs to use the existing water sources to its full potential,while at the same time make the water distribution system more efficient. “It is unjustified,immoral and unacceptable for a city like Pune which has not worked seriously on any of the options for reusing its water,and ask for a new dam to be built ,which can put our society and the ecosystem at risk,” said Parineeta Dandekar of South Asia Network on Dams,River and People,Pune (SANDRP). Activists said,“The two Katraj tanks built across Ambil Rivulet have a capacity of 3 TMC. Pashan tank on Ramnadi with a catchment area of 40 sq kms can provide water to the city. In fact,the Katraj dam if neglected and not maintained properly can pose as a threat to settlements nearby,” said Dandekar.

In a statement issued by activists including Sujit Patwardhan of Parisar,Vijay Paranjpye from Gomukh Trust,Tasneem Balasinorwala from Pune Tree Watch and Suneel Joshi from Jalbiradari,the activists argue that rain water harvesting and processing of sewage water can also help.

“Pune produces more than 744 million litres of sewage every day of which less than 30% is treated. All of the 7 sewage treatment plants run at less than 50 per cent of their designed capacity in addition to the huge quantity of sewage which flows into the river,” the activists said.

It has been estimated that wastage and leakages in Pune’s water supply system amount to more than 40 per cent. But the water supply department doesn’t know where they leakages come from as water supply department has conceded that it doesn’t keep record of the water leakage,say activists.

“The city needs to adopt metering system and follow examples of towns such as Amravati where the city with Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran has overhauled its ageing water system and set up District Metering Areas to monitor water leakages and audit water use. This can be done without privatisation or loans from international financial institutions such as World Bank,as is being proposed for the city in this case,” the activists added.

Not many sites available for dam construction: Irrigation officials

The political class might be stressing the need for yet another dam for the city,but irrigation department officials said not many sites are available for construction of a dam around the city.

“There is a separate circle within the irrigation department which carries out surveys regarding sites and probable locations besides allied functions. No survey has been done in the recent past to zero in on any location suitable for constructing the dam around the city. Options need to be explored on the upstream of Khadakwasla as well as Bhama Askhed,” an official said.

Two sites are reportedly being proposed upstream of Varasgaon dam — Gondephal and Tekepo.

The suggestions have apparently been submitted to Justice Brijesh Kumar Commission.

Talking to The Indian Express,Avinash Surve,superintendent engineer,irrigation department,said,“No plans are visible in the near future. We have received no input regarding surveying of sites for any proposed dam for the city.

There are only two probable sites as far as Khadakwasla is concerned. Water is already being supplied to Pune through Bhama Askhed. Constructing a dam depends on many more factors besides just a suitable site.”

PMC panel to hold special meeting on water shortage

With the state government expressing need of a separate dam to meet the water needs of the city,the standing committee of the Pune Municipal Corporation.

(pmc) has called a special meeting to discuss the water issue and the ways to resolve it permanently.

“All the party leaders have to be taken into confidence before deciding on the strategy of the civic body towards resolving the issue. Hence,a special meeting on water issue would be held soon,” said Baburao Chandere,standing committee chairperson.

He said there was no decision on water cut as yet and the civic administration is holding discussions with the irrigation department insisting for allowing drawing more water from the dam to meet city needs.

A few days ago a group of corporators had tabled a plan to give incentives to the staff of the Water Supply Department of the PMC. NCP corporator Bapu Karne and MNS corporator Rajendra Wagaskar had sought monetary incentives for the the civic staff of the water supply department stating that they have to suffer a lot while performing their duties as have to report at work whenever their service is sought.

PMC officials have been making efforts to get an additional water stock from the water reserved for the agricultural purposes,but their efforts have turned a cropper. As now only less than 3 TMC left in the dam.

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