February 15, 2016 12:22:00 am
With nearly 450 residents on the riverbed of Mula-Mutha river issued evacuation notices by the Pune Municipal Corporation(PMC) to clear out constructions on the riverbed, water conservationist and winner of Stockholm Water prize, Rajendra Singh, has urged the government to rehabilitate these residents. “Although it is essential to clear any constructions on the riverbed, it is not the fault of the residents who put in their hard-earned money and invested in these flats which are now within the flood lines. It is the responsibility of the administration to make amendments and rehabilitate them before pulling down these constructions,’’ said India’s waterman Rajendra Singh, addressing the residents who had assembled to share their problems.
The meeting was arranged by activist Sarang Yadwadkar, who had demanded clearing of these constructions citing that these constructions were within the floodline. Yadwadkar said that we are not against these people as they have done no wrong. “It is the civic body that gave permissions and allowed to construct these buildings. We have extended our support and we feel that they should fight it out and should get complete compensation,’’ he said. The meeting which was called for an open discussion with the civic body, the affected flat owners and Singh did not see any civic official attend.
Residents’ representative, Somnath Giri, said that they would form a committee and decide on their next step as they feel injustice has been meted out to them. “We were given clear sanctions by the civic body. Why should we suffer for their mistake?’’ asked Giri. After a long struggle to stop the construction of a road along the Mula-Mutha river line, which could have choked the riverbed, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) was following National Green Tribunal (NGT) orders from August. Although the debris removal has started, Yadwadkar says it is the constructions on the flood line of the river bed which needs to be demolished to keep the river from flooding. But those affected by this evacuation should be compensated.”
“I believe that there is 60,000 truckloads of debris which are still lying unattended and the civic body needs to address it,’’ he said.
As per orders of the NGT, the PMC had to clear the debris and demolish the wall constructed to connect Vitthalwadi and National Highway 4 by August 12 last year. Since the PMC failed to execute the given orders, residents of the area and activists wrote letters to the commissioner. “Now they have started clearing the debris slowly. If this would not have been cleared, flood situations could have occurred in case of heavy rainfall or water discharge from Khadakwasla dam ahead of monsoons. The directions should be implemented at the earliest but with dialogue with the affected party,” added Yadwadkar.
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