EIGHT years after the firing incident in Maval area of Pune rocked the nation, work on the controversial Rs 400-crore Pavana pipeline project is likely to begin soon with the state government last week directing the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) to pay Rs 79.30 lakh for the preparation of a detailed project report (DPR).
According to PCMC officials, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) has written to the civic body to pay the amount as the water resources department is set to prepare the DPR. The PCMC administration will now place the government’s demand before the civic body’s standing committee.
When contacted, PCMC joint city engineer Makrand Nikam said, “The state government has asked us to pay the amount for preparing the DPR. This means, there is now a forward movement for restarting the stalled pipeline project.”
Civic officials said the move seems to be an attempt to placate local villagers, who have been protesting against the project, claiming that if water is drawn by a direct pipeline then the Pavana river may turn dry and they won’t get sufficient water to irrigate their farms. “Since the state government is taking the responsibility, villagers will not feel short-changed as they had been protesting against what they called the PCMC’s move to take away their legitimate share of water,” Nikam said.
The Rs 400-crore project involves lifting water directly through a closed pipeline from Pavana dam, located around 35 km from Pimpri-Chinchwad. The pipeline would run up to Ravet area of Pimpri-Chinchwad. The project had come to a halt in August 2011 after three protesting farmers were killed in police firing in Maval area. The state government had immediately stayed the implementation of the project.
It was once again taken up by the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) in 2012, when the Authority gave conditional approval to the PCMC to restart work on the project. But the state government refused to approve it as farmers, led by the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, were still protesting against the project. The issue finally reached the Bombay High Court, which appointed a committee to look into it.
Earlier in 2010, the high court had rejected a PIL against the project. The same year, MWRRA had also dismissed an appeal made by farmers against the project. The Authority gave a green signal for the implementation of the project, but it remained stalled as the state government did not want to antagonise the farmers.