PMC admits they have no survey detailing numerous encroachments on hills across city,no action plan in case calamities occur this monsoon

Out of the total 243.84 sq km area in the city,8.41 per cent is covered with hills and hill slopes,across Parvati,Bhamburda,Chatuhshrungi,and Panchgaon,including Yerwada,Ramtekdi,Bibwewadi,Warje,and Ambegaon.Interestingly,the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) administration has no figures when it comes to encroachment on these areas.However,the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Mashal,along with the PMCs Slum Development department have a combined 2011 survey of slums around the city,which estimate around 21,000 slums located in these hilly areas.This,however,does not include any information on illegal constructions,only slum tenements,all of which are vulnerable to calamities in case of heavy rainfall.
Vivek Kharvadkar,additional city engineer of the Building Permission and Control department,said,We have not yet conducted a proper survey on hill tops and slopes.However,we are continuously taking action against illegal constructions in the city,which also includes those on hill tops and slopes.The hills had already been encroached upon around 10-15 years ago.We are helpless when it comes to these old encroachments.However,we take action on new encroachments in these areas.
Executive engineer of the Building Permission and Control department Rajendra Raut said,We have taken action on more than 2,000 illegal structures so far over the last two years,specially in the Sutardara,Ramtekdi,Katraj,and Bibvewadi areas.As far as I know,we have knocked down at least four to five structures in each of these areas.For our demolition drives,there is no separate hill top and slope category.We have to collect specific information on these,which should take two-three days.
The maximum hilly areas are located in the 23 villages that are to be merged with Pune according to the most recent Development Plan (DP).Despite the fact that PMC has officially put bio-diversity reservation on these hills,the hill tops and hill slopes are still being encroached upon by slums.
The State government has absolved responsibility,asking the civic body to take care of its bio-diversity parks (BDP) on its own,while asking them to carry out an anti-encroachment drives to clear BDP land.A State official told Mirror on condition of anonymity,PMC officials have told the State that it is difficult to protect BDPs as they do not have the mechanisms and human resources to do so.
Deputy Municipal Commissioner of the Slum Development department D P More said,The State government has declared illegal slums as legal under the Slum Act of 1966.If we have to rehabilitate residents of slums on hill tops and slope who have legal status,we will have to include them in the house allotment policy under Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) and Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) schemes.However,we dont have enough housing units under these schemes.Another thing,is that PMC has given priority to home allotment under SRA and BSUP for residents of slums along the riverside,nullahs,and PMC-project and road-widening projectaffected people.
Source : Pune Mirror 12.06.2013
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