Unmarked floodlines leave riverbed open to land grab

Many Slums And Societies Have Come Up
In more than 25 years, neither has the state irrigation department, nor Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) found the necessity to demarcate the river’s floodlines to keep encroachments away .As a consequence, thousands of structures, some with legal clearances stand tall in the floodline which are promptly inundated when the river is in spate.

The civic administration and the state officials do not know how to resolve this issue as political protection to encroachments is strong and locals are opposed to relocation.

“The floodlines are not demarcated and the riverbed is being exploited. Many constructions have come up within the floodlines because of a nexus between builders, the civic body and the irrigation officials. People living in the floodlines are vulnerable to a major threat,“ environment activist Sarang Yadwadkar said, adding that most societies on Sinhagad Road have come up with legal permission.

Following the state government’s circular in 1989, the irrigation department in 2008 defined the high floodlines (HFL) of the Mutha river. The irrigation department surveyed its 27km stretch from Khadakwasla dam to Kharadi and came up with a report mentioning the HFL along the river.

But civic officials claim the irrigation department has not given a detailed mapping of the floodline all these years. As PMC and the irrigation department continue to pass the buck, more than 30 localities, including housing societies and slums, have come up. Recently , about 500 families had to be relocated following incessant rainfall.

“The process to demarcate the floodlines is in the last stage. It will take a few more days for the civic body to take action on the ground and mark the floodlines. We expect detailed maps from the irrigation department,“ city engineer Prashant Waghmare said.

He told media persons that the PMC will rehabilitate “authorized“ slum dwellers and society members and will have to get illegal dwellers to vacate. The PMC does not have the floodlines marked on its city development plan.

The irrigation department has another story to tell. One of the officials requesting anonymity said the civic administration was responsible for encroachments in the riverbed and for not marking the floodlines.

“There is political pressure on civic officials. A majority of the slums have come up in the floodlines with political blessings and it is difficult to rehabilitate and relocate them,“ the official said.

Most slum dwellers from Tadiwala Road, Pulachiwadi and Bopodi slums who were relocated by the PMC because of frequent flooding in their slums have come back to their places. They relocate during the flooding but come back.

Shravani Bobade, from Sinhagad Road, said all societies constructed in the floodlines are legal as they have no-objection certificates from the PMC and the irrigation officials.“We don’t know about the floodlines. We have bought flats only because the title of the land was cleared. We are not going to move out,“ she said.

Activist Vijay Kumbhar said the civic body is responsible for not marking the floodlines.“The entire riverbed has been encroached upon by slums and illegal constructions. Also debris dumbing has reduced its carrying capacity ,“ he said.

Guardian minister Girish Bapat said he has told the irrigation department and the civic body to take every step to avoid inundation of the areas in the city.

“We have to take a call on river management.The state government is planning a policy to ensure that constructions don’t come up in the riverbed or within the floodline,“ he told media persons recently .

Source : TOI