Ravindra Dhangekar Assures Support To Pune's Environmental Activists, Slams Balbharati Road, Riverfront Project

Ravindra Dhangekar Assures Support To Pune's Environmental Activists, Slams Balbharati Road, Riverfront Project

On Saturday, a group of activists from Vetal Tekdi Bachav Kruti Samiti (VTBKS), along with those opposing the riverfront development project, met him and submitted their demands.

Ankit ShuklaUpdated: Sunday, April 28, 2024, 01:43 PM IST
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Ravindra Dhangekar Assures Support To Pune's Environmental Activists, Slams Balbharati Road, Riverfront Project |

Days after facing criticism for not attending a pre-poll discussion event titled 'Pune Jan Samwad,' organised by a renowned NGO in the city, Congress Lok Sabha candidate Ravindra Dhangekar appears to be garnering support from environmental activists in Pune.

On Saturday, a group of activists from Vetal Tekdi Bachav Kruti Samiti (VTBKS), along with those opposing the riverfront development project, met him and submitted their demands.

Speaking at the event, Dhangekar assured his support to the cause of environment. He also raised concerns over the flawed execution of the riverfront development project in the city and advocated for environmental organisations' input regarding the Vetal tekdi issue.

Asserting his opposition to projects that disrupt Pune's environmental balance, Dhangekar underscored the critical importance of preserving the city's natural resources, warning against prioritising development benefiting builder lobby over environmental conservation.

"Future generations won't forgive us if we let the interests of the builder lobby precede over the cause of the environment," Dhangekar added.

Here's what activists had to say

Sarang Yadwadkar, a 65-year-old architect by profession and a well-known environmental activist in Pune, emphasised the urgent need for improvement of the river in the city. He highlighted the deplorable condition of the river and stressed that cleaning the river and its surrounding areas should be prioritised over beautification efforts.

"It's like not bathing for a week but going to a beauty parlour," he added.

During the event, Pune Lok Sabha election campaign chief and former MLA Mohan Joshi, Baner resident Prajakta Diwekar (Vetal Tekdi Bachav Kruti Samiti (VTBKS), Swapnil Dudhane (Urban Cell), Bhausaheb Asbe, RJ Sangram Khopde were present on this occasion.

Yadwadkar further said that the crores spent on riverfront development projects would be better utilised if directed towards enhancing the river's cleanliness.

He expressed concern over the extensive construction underway in the riverbed, noting the lack of adherence to rules, laws, and standards, which could lead to a 40% reduction in the riverbed. Yadwadkar warned of potential flood risks associated with narrowing riverbeds.

He criticised the arbitrary nature of these projects, highlighting the absence of environmental clearances and likening it to dictatorship and called for an immediate halt to such activities. He highlighted the need for the removal of obstructions in the riverbed, silt from the river, the construction of sewage treatment plants based on population needs, and the enhancement of solid waste management practices to ensure the river's cleanliness.

Expressing regret over the transformation of the once-beautiful river into an unsightly one, Yadwadkar lamented the expenditure of thousands of crores in the name of restoring its beauty. He underscored the necessity of prioritising practical measures aimed at truly improving the river's condition over superficial beautification efforts.

Addressing the gathering, Ravindra Dhangekar slammed the BJP's governance over the past decade, promising to address the issues of Pune residents if elected and sought a letter of demands from the group.

He pledged to follow the example set by former MP Suresh Kalmadi in driving positive development momentum for Pune. Mohan Joshi, the campaign chief for the Lok Sabha election in Pune, echoed these sentiments, emphasising the need for environmental preservation and addressing issues like air pollution and traffic congestion in the city.

We will elect Dhangekar

Furthermore, Pradeep Ghumare, a citizen activist, expressed concern over the detrimental impact of projects including Balbharati-Paud Phata road, which pose a severe threat to the environment. Ghumare emphasised that the Vetal Tekdi Bachav Kruti Samiti has been opposing these projects for many years.

He noted that the cause received significant support from various political parties last year, including Congress, NCP (SP), Vandana Chavan, and Shiv Sena (UBT). He highlighted the participation of over 4000 people in street protests, demonstrating their commitment to preserving the environment and protecting the hills.

"When we rallied on the streets, over 4000 people, driven by a shared desire to preserve our environment and protect the hills, joined our cause. Ravindra Dhangekar, who had recently become Kasba MLA, provided us with strong support. Today, our resolve to safeguard Pune's environment remains unwavering, and we are committed to continuing our fight. We wanted to present our perspective." He also expressed resolve that they will support Dhangekar and elect him in Pune Lok Sabha Polls.

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