Pune | PMC Questioned: 'Is River Front Development Genuinely Aimed At Reducing Floods?'

Pune | PMC Questioned: 'Is River Front Development Genuinely Aimed At Reducing Floods?'

The River Front Development project costs ₹4,700 crore and involves cutting 11,000 trees

Hayat (Nozia) SayyedUpdated: Tuesday, January 16, 2024, 05:56 PM IST
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Pune | PMC Questioned: 'Is River Front Development Genuinely Aimed At Reducing Floods?' | Sourced

Pune, already grappling with civic challenges, is now facing a new concern initiated by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Under the pretext of urbanisation, the civic body has launched a River Front Development (RFD) project, which some residents believe poses a "significant threat to the environment and safety of the citizens." They fear it may result in future health issues, floods, and the destruction of the city's natural habitat.

This project, claimed by the civic body as a means to "reduce flood levels," is alleged to involve narrowing the rivers through the dumping of debris, posing a serious flood and environmental threat.

According to sources, the PMC is also set to cut down thousands of trees as part of the project.

Citizens like Sarang Yadwadkar, along with his team, alarmed by the potential ecological impact, approached the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), an environmental clearance body, successfully halting the PMC's alleged "killing spree" of rivers and trees.

Yadwadkar explained the issue, saying, "The PMC submitted a detailed project report (DPR) for RFD, claiming it to be for the city's development and urbanisation. However, the project narrows the banks by constructing concrete embankments right on the riverbeds, a violation of regulations. This is occurring along three rivers in the city—Mula, Mutha, and Mula-Mutha."

Despite urging the civic body and political leaders to intervene and engage in a “transparent dialogue,” Yadwadkar said that their efforts were in vain. PMC Commissioner Vikram Kumar remained unresponsive, leading citizens to seek assistance from state bodies and the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

The state body has since acknowledged the issue and challenged the PMC to demonstrate that the project serves the city's development and is genuinely aimed at "reducing floods."

Contrary to the initial project report, the PMC has sought permission to cut down 11,000 trees in the city, including heritage trees like banyans aged over 50 years, raising concerns about the impact on air quality and public health.

As per the sources, the PMC, through the RFD project, wants to introduce amenities such as food plazas, parking lots, and restaurants, which again raises questions about the civic body’s priorities.

Yadwadkar questioned, “Punekars need to reflect on whether they prefer such amenities at the cost of frequent floods or want clean, fresh air for themselves and future generations.”

Meanwhile, despite attempts to contact him, PMC Commissioner Vikram Kumar remained unresponsive, failing to answer calls and choosing not to revert to text messages.

What if PMC goes ahead with the project?

According to Yadwadkar and his team, if the PMC proceeds with the project without any "scientific research to support" it, the ongoing project may pose serious threats. The following problems might arise:

Floods from free catchment areas

Confluence effect

Rise by 37.5% in rainfall

More frequent events of cloud bursts

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