PUNE: The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and South Asian Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) recently organised ‘Dialogue on Urban rivers of Maharashtra’ to discuss the poor state of the rivers in Maharashtra and ways of bringing back the rivers closer to their original state to ensure flowing rivers with clean water in the long term.
Water experts from Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and various parts of Maharashtra attended the conference and unanimously agreed that Pune River Front Development (RFD) project is a recipe for disaster.
Pune Municipal Corporation’s environment officer-in-charge, Mangesh Dighe described the development of the Mula-Mutha riverfront on the lines of Sabarmati riverfront and presented the details where a new sewage treatment facility will be introduced for cleaning the Mula-Mutha river.
The participants included environmentalist Prof Madhav Gadgil and Dr Rajendrasingh; Member of Parliament Vandana Chavan; environmental lawyers Ritwick Dutta from Delhi and Gayatri Singh from Mumbai and Manoj Mishra from Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan. The discussion forum raised various questions and objections regarding the ecological considerations and water quality in the Pune RFD project. It also discussed the demolition of the metro projects and bridges to accommodate the project.
Gadgil said, “Most of the urban rivers in Maharashtra are in a poor state and are affected by problems like pollution, with little or no biodiversity, little or no flow during most of the year, encroachment, dumping of waste and sometimes even mining. Water pollution from urban industrial effluents is a serious problem for the river, floodplain as well as groundwater.”
He added, “With unplanned development, as the floodplains and riverbeds are being encroached, people are experiencing increased intensity and frequency of floods and flash floods, which can lead to an increasing possibility of water scarcity, depletion of groundwater levels and drought in spite of rains.”