The Pimpri-Chinchwad Cooperative Societies Federation and the Punawale Residents Association on Sunday joined forces to oppose the proposed solid waste management project in Punawale. Residents from Punawale, Tathawade, Marunji, Jambe, Hinjewadi, and Wakad united in protest, organising a bike rally at 10am to voice their concerns. They were heard shouting, "Radd kara radd kara, kachra depot radd kara."
Currently, the forest department owns 22 hectares of land in Punawale, under the jurisdiction of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC). In 2008, this land was designated for a solid waste management project following a request from the civic body.
When the project received approval in 2008, the area was less urbanised. Since then, numerous housing projects, educational institutions, and hospitals have sprung up. The area now hosts more than one lakh residents and is considered an attractive location due to its natural environment and proximity to the Hinjewadi IT Park. However, the proposed project, situated in close proximity to various buildings and housing societies, poses a significant health risk to citizens. Additionally, the project's location next to the forest may lead to extensive environmental damage. Furthermore, the prevailing winds blowing from west to east throughout the year could have a detrimental impact on already-developed areas such as Wakad, Tathwade, Hinjewadi IT Park, and Marunji.
Given Pune city's ongoing industrialisation and deteriorating air quality, the proposal to establish a solid waste management project in Punawale by cutting down trees is deemed impractical and incomprehensible by the residents. They are urging the administration to seek an alternative location for the project, one that considers the environment and their well-being. They insist the project not be implemented, as it would cause significant hardship to the local population. The residents have also approached Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar with their concerns.
Meena Sharma, a homemaker, emphasises, "Our lives and property values are at stake with this project. We urge the authorities to consider a more suitable location." Anurag Singh, an IT engineer, expresses, "Our children's health and future are paramount. The project's potential impact on nearby schools is worrisome." Priya Deshmukh, an entrepreneur, adds, "Punawale is a peaceful haven that we've chosen for its tranquillity. The proposed project could disrupt our peace and lead to environmental damage."