July 8, 2009 5:11:57 am
Puneites are facing water scarcity at the cost of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and his family members including State Irrigation Minister Ajit Pawar who have conveniently diverted water from Warasgaon dam to Lavasa Corporation Limited, said social activist Medha Patkar on Tuesday.
Pune population requires about 11.5 TMC water and the capacity of Warasgaon dam is also about 11.5 TMC. While Lavasa Corporation has illegally acquired permissions to get 1.5 TMC water (10 percent) from Warasgaon dam,it is unclear whether this water will be used for the 5,000 acres of presently approved project or for the 25,000 acres of the total hill city area of Lavasa, she said.
Patkar,who is also the head of National Alliance for Peoples Movements (NAPM),was speaking at a press meet held here. She said that Lavasa Lake City is expected to have 1.5 lakh residents for whom water will be needed. Other than that,the project also includes hotels,recreation and water sports as well as large amount of Ayurevdic plans and herbs plantation,as claimed on Lavasa website,that will need water. Considering this,acquiring permission for diverting 1.5 TMC water seems just the beginning, Patkar said.
She went on to say that eight dams are being constructed at the source of Warasgaon dam,while two smaller dams in the backwaters. Also,about 90 small streams have been diverted and are being projected as tourist attraction. Patkar also said,While the government had the largest share in Lavasa,in terms of not only money but also the land and water,Ajit Gulabchand,chairman and managing director,Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) has about 65 percent stake in the project.
It is time that Puneites understand that on one hand is their need of drinking,domestic and irrigation water,while on the other is the requirement of water for international hotels and recreation sports that are being planned in Lavasa, she said. Activist from Maval Maruti Bhapkar too said that when Puneites raised their voice to save their hills,they must show similar aggression to ensure that water meant for them will not be diverted for the profit of a handful and businessmen and politicians.
Patkar referred to the inquiry report on land deals in Pune prepared by Peoples Commission of inquiry led by NAPM and said that Lavasa project is not just exploiting water meant for Puneites,but also the land,flora and fauna. NAPM Sachin Choudhary pointed out that about one crore trees were cut down for the purpose of the project. There have been instances where the project got permissions from the irrigation department within just two days, he said.
Patkar said,We have submitted the report to the government and as of now,we are politely requesting them to start inquiry about the wrongdoings of this project. We will have to take to other measures if the government continues to remain silent, she said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.