Pune: A farmer died in the backwater of the dam on Saturday after entering the water. Around 9.30 am, 35-year-old Dnyaneshwar Shantaram Gunjal, a resident of Raundhalwadi in Khed taluka, entered the water and drowned. Some local residents claimed that it was suicide.
This incident may give a major setback to the ongoing Bhama-Askhed project to get water from the Bhama-Askhed dam at a time when Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has sought police protection to resume the work. However, PMC officials denied any impact on the work so far.
VG Kulkarni, Chief Superintendent of the Water Supply Department of PMC, said, “The farmer’s death is nothing to do with PMC water supply project. Our project work has stopped and we have demanded police protection to restart it.”
Suresh Gore, Shiv Sena MLA of Khed Constituency, said, “Police has not reached any conclusion on the death of Gunjal. He was one of the Bhama-Askhed dam-affected farmers and his name was included in the project-affected list also. Right now, it is too early to pass any comment on it.”
After getting information, DCP Smartna Patil, Senior Police Inspector Sunil Pawar and other officials reached the spot. However, the body could not be found. Later a NDRF team was called, which fished out Gunjal’s body at around 5.30 pm.DCP Patil said that they have not received any complaint about his death. Whether it is suicide or drowning case will be ascertained after investigation, she added.
According to PMC officials, villagers are demanding land in Khed taluka, which was taken during construction of the dam. There are around 1,800 villagers, whose 2,500 hectares of land was acquired. Now, these villagers want land as compensation and that too only in Khed taluka and not anywhere in Pune district.
Due to the agitation of villagers, the project work was affected. Now, the cost has reached Rs 600 crore. The original project cost was Rs 380 crore. The project is expected to meet the drinking water needs of 14.5 lakh people in eastern Pune city.