PUNE: Concerned over the dumping of debris, tree felling and burning, and illegal construction along the banks of Ramnadi river near the Baner-Aundh link road, citizens, activists and NGOs have raised their voice by writing letters to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Among them are residents of three housing societies - Aloma County, Kapil Tranquila and Irene Tower, Ecological Society faculty and trustees, NGOs Jeevitnadi and Jalbiradri members, and Indu Gupta and Pragati Kaushal.
In their letter, the citizens have stated that corrective action should be taken immediately and development plans should be revised. They requested that the trees being cut need to be replanted. Sincere efforts should be made to save the rich and pristine biodiversity that exists there.
The concerned citizens and NGO Jeevitnadi surveyed the banks of the river opposite Kapil Tranquila. They found debris on the floodplain of the river. Shubha Kulkarni, a Jeevitnadi volunteer and a resident of Aloma County, said the pace of dumping increased since June last year. Shubha and other residents from Kapil Tranquila have ‘adopted’ this stretch of the river and have been cleaning the area every Sunday morning under Jeevitnadi’s ‘Adopt a Stretch’ programme, since September last year.
The Ramnadi originates in Bhukum village, Mulshi Taluka, in the Sahyadri range on the outskirts of Pune. It passes through Bhugaon, Bavdhan Khurd and Budruk, Pashan, and Baner, before joining the Mula river near Baner. Shailaja Deshpande, founder member and one of the directors of Jeevitnadi, said the area where the dumping is happening is part of an excellent riparian zone.
The debris is blocking the natural hydrological system of this area and killing trees.
Other residents of housing societies opposite the threatened river stretch, too, have witnessed debris dumping and a drastic reduction in the number of trees on this stretch. Arti Mhaskar said there was a thick canopy from the road till the edge of the river. “There were ramphal, sitaphal, karanj, tamarind, nilgiri trees, among others. The nilgiri tree has fruit bats, then there are great herons, drongo, ashy prinia, ducks, and several land and water birds,” she said.
But too many trees have been cut now, she rued. On top of that, the stench from the water bodies is so strong at night, that they have to close their homes completely, said Sangeeta Oswal, a resident of Kapil Tranquil Greens.
Additional Municipal Commissioner Prerna Deshbhratar said the matter of debris dumping and tree felling would be addressed by the respective departments.
The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board will also have to look into the issue, she said. Jeevitnadi will now put together a detailed report of the importance of this riparian zone, the biodiversity, and particularly find out the ownership of the area in the river’s floodplain.