Citizens fume as disputed water tank on tekdi nears completion

Citizens’ protests and complaints notwithstanding, the massive water tank on the slope of Vetal tekdi is nearing completion.

The construction of the tank near Panchavati Society was stopped after TOI highlighted the issue in October last year.

The report prompted the forest department to bar the Pune Municipal Corporation-hired contractor from continuing the work till it confirmed the the ownership of the land. Also, the department directed the contractor to procure all the required permissions before starting the construction.

However, repeated warnings by the forest department to freeze the work failed to check the tank’s construction.

“We told the contractor repeatedly not to go ahead with the construction, but all in vain. There is confusion between PMC and the forest department about the ownership of the land. A district collector order of the year 1988 says that the land belongs to the forest department. However, PMC claims that they have another document stating that the land belongs to them,” a forest department official said on Tuesday.

The official said since PMC has not been able to share a copy of the document, it cannot stake claim on it.

“If civic authorities do not give a supporting document justifying their claim over the land in 10 days, we will seize the tank and remove the labourers as well,” he said.

A senior official from the PMC’s water supply department said the land is a ‘social forestry land’. He, however, refused to share further details.

A regular tekdi walker said a few days ago, he had found that the work on the tank was going on in full swing. “The massive tank is almost nearing completion. A large section of the slope has been levelled and deforested. Two big houses have been built for the workers and for storing material. A de facto road now runs up the hill to the site of construction,” the walker said.

Members of the Deccan Gymkhana Parisar Samiti (DGPS) on Tuesday sent a letter to senior forest and PMC officials to draw their attention to the construction of the water tank on the slope of the tekdi. “We are not against construction of water tanks, which are a necessity for 24×7 water supply to these areas. But, we request that alternative sites be selected for such massive projects. The importance of urban forests cannot be overstated in these times. Tekdis and the forests on them should be preserved as natural heritage sites and be protected from such large-scale damage,” Sushma Date, a member of DGPS, said.

Date said the water supply department and the contractor have flouted laws regarding the Forest Conservation Act 1980 and the Tree Act 1975. “As per the law, when any forest land is diverted to non-forest use, an environmental impact assessment is mandatory and permission needs to be sought from the central government,” Date said.

Source : TOI



Pavement parking tramples on pedestrians’ right of way

Fines for parking two- and four-wheelers on footpaths are steep— Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,000, respectively. Even so, vehicle users insist on robbing pedestrians of their right of way by parking on the pavements across the city.

Walking or crossing the road is an ordeal in itself in the city. That hemmed in feeling is bound to assail pedestrians if the safest part of a road, the footpath, is encroached upon by vehicles, kiosks, handcarts, bus stands, garbage and stray cattle.

“Footpaths should be pleasantly walkable. There are several hurdles from feeder pillars to vehicle parking. Strict action must be taken against those who don’t follow the rules,” Rajendra Sidhaye, chairman of Save Pune Traffic Movement, said.

Walkers agree that more vigilant policemen, the civic body, NGOs and citizens themselves can look at ways to protect pedestrians’ right of way.

Fergusson College student Harshvardhan Patil tags the walk from Gadgil Bridge (Z bridge) end opening to Jangli Maharaj Road to his college as a ‘tough task’.

“My father drops me off near the bridge. The walk from here is extremely problematic as most of the footpaths are lined with vehicles and vendors. Pedestrians are forced to walk on the road. It is a danger at all times,” the 20-yearold Koregaon Park resident said.

Vaishnavi Shende from Raviwar Peth said encroachment of footpaths is rampant everywhere, but blatant in the Peth areas.

A JM Road type revamp, where the footpath is out of bounds for vehicle users is necessary across the city, Shende said. “It won’t be possible for Peth areas but new areas can have it,” she added.

Relentless and persistent action from the anti-encroachment squad from the civic body can not only reclaim footpaths, but also preserve it for walkers.

“The PMC has started action against vehicles abandoned on the roads or footpaths. Over 900 vehicles have been confiscated. These include cars, autorickshaws and two-wheelers,” Madhav Jagtap, head of the anti-encroachment department, said.

The traffic branch of the Pune police also keeps an eye on such illegal parking. Vivekanand Wakhare, inspector (planning) of the traffic branch, said, “Traffic policemen regularly act against vehicles parked on footpaths as per the civic rules. Fines thus collected are shared equally by the police and the civic body.”

Hope lies in the smart pedestrian street, planned by the civic body under the Smart Cities Mission, which talks about safer infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists and the differently abled. The initiative has planned the redesigning of 27km of streets with a road width over 18m, adequate footpath space and demarcated cycle lanes.

Source : TOI


We have done very little to ensure regulation of noise in our cities

Noise pollution is the propagation of noise with harmful effects on human and animal life. The main sources of noise are heavy machines, traffic, construction activities and musical performances.

High noise levels can cause cardiovascular problems, irritability, impatience

and loss of hearing in humans. In animals, high noise levels can cause death by changing the delicate balance in predator or prey detection and avoidance.

Sound becomes unwanted when it interferes with activities such as sleep or conversation. Constant noise deprives one of rest. Loud and continuous noise can also impair the hearing ability of a person.

Road noise, though ignored in Indian cities, is a major cause of imbalances and health problems. Poorlymaintained vehicles roar past residential areas every day. In overcrowded areas, problem of road noise are worse. The ministries of transport and roadways have done little to improve the condition of roads. In fact, the perpetual digging of roads and potholes caused by rains rattle every vehicle creating, besides engine rattling, body noise.

The Government of India has rules against firecrackers and loudspeakers, but these regulations only remain on paper. Since 2003, many NGOs have been working on spreading awareness about the harmful effects of loud noises, but little has been achieved. The Supreme Court, in its judgement in 2005, has issued the following directions to control the noise levels. First, the noise level at the boundary of a public place, where loudspeakers or public-address systems are being used, should not exceed 75 decibels. Second, no one should beat a drum, blow a trumpet or use any sound amplifier between 10pm and 6 am. The state governments may permit the use of loudspeakers and sound equipment during the festive seasons from 10 am to midnight for a total period of 15 days in a year.

The bearable limit of sound as permitted by law is 55 decibels and anything beyond this limit is harmful to health and environment. But very little attention is paid to the lives of those who do not participate in festivities. During festivals, noise levels go up to 115 decibels, which is completely unbearable. While each person’s tolerance to noise is different, high sound levels can be harmful to children, senior citizens and pets. Have we noticed how dogs go in a frenzy when loud crackers are exploded? Dogs have six times the strength of human hearing and these noises almost explode their nervous system.

Every citizen should work towards limiting the noise levels for the sake of present and future generations.

The writer is a resident of Pune



PMC to clear streets of abandoned vehicles

Civic Body Seizes 377 Automobiles In A Fortnight

The Pune Municipal Corporation has started a drive to seize all vehicles which are either abandoned or left unattended on streets. The civic body has confiscated as many as 377 vehicles in the last fortnight.

The anti-encroachment department first puts up notices on all such vehicles urging their owners to remove them. If the owners fail to comply, the vehicles are moved to dump yards.

According to PMC’s estimates, nearly 50,000 unclaimed vehicles are lying in open spaces and on roads across the city. While the Peth areas face the maximum problem of congestion because of such vehicles blocking the carriageway, the problem is citywide. Moreover, hundreds of vehicles are lying at police stations across the city awaiting judgment in the criminal cases in which they were used.

Civic officials said the move will decongest roads, especially those in the Peth areas. Roads cannot be widened in these areas due to space crunch and the abandoned vehicles add to the problem.

“Most of the vehicles left on the roads are usually involved in accidents. Many of the two-wheelers found along the roadsides are stolen ones,” a senior civic official said. They are not only an eyesore, but al- so become bree- ding places for disea- se-cau- sing mosquitoes. Over the years, vandals remove parts of the abandoned vehicles leaving behind just the frames, he added.

The PMC has also started penalising owners who park their vehicles on public places. The fine is expected to act as a deterrent and reduce encroachments on public roads. The town vending committee has approved a penalty struc- ture which ranges from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000. Madhav Jagtap, head of PMC’s anti-encroachment department, said: “We will issue advertisements appealing to owners of seized vehicles to pay the fine. They will get a month’s time to oblige after which the vehicles will be auctioned.”

Apart from leading to traffic snarls, especially on the narrow roads in the city, unattended four-wheelers like cars also raise security concerns. Parked on the roads for months together , they are covered with a thick layer of dust making it diffi – cult to look inside them. Seve – ral such cars parked on the ro – ads have also hampered road widening works in the past.

TIMES VIEW: The Pune Municipal Corporation has finally decided to act against the vehicles abandoned on roads. The civic body should go a step further and come up with a policy to dispose of or crush vehicles which are not sold in the auction. Else, these will get accumulated at the dump yards, creating a new problem. Ward offices should check that the people buying these vehicles have proper parking spaces and do not end up parking them on roads or open plots, defeating the purpose of the initiative.

Source : TOI



Hot & humid days take the chill out of winter this year

Sunday Was The Warmest At 33.4°C

The trend continued on Monday with the mercury breaching the 32°C mark again, though thanks to high level of humidity, the “real feel” temperature was 35°C. This was revealed by the data from a private weather forecaster. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) confirmed these findings. On Monday, the humidity level, as recorded at Shivajinagar, stood at 96%, which is about 12 % higher than normal. In Lohegaon, the humidity level touched 83%, around 22% above normal.

To put matters in perspective, till December 24, the maximum temperatures in the city stayed below the 30°C-mark. However, in just about 20 days, Pune (Shivajinagar) was among the stations recording the highest maximum temperature in the state.

Currently, both day and night temperatures in all locations in the state are above normal, with departures ranging from 1°C to 5°C. The city’s minimum temperature on Monday was 16.2°C, which is 5°C above normal.

Moreover, as per an IMD forecast released on Monday evening, the night temperature in the city may shoot up to 20°C on January 16. Thereafter, the night temperatures may drop gradually, though the day temperatures are expected to hover around 30°C.

Understandably, many have tucked their woollens away. Nikita Hegde, an engineering student, said, “I don’t need sweaters as it has been quite warm, especially in the past few days.”

Source : TOI




Pune features among the top 3 Indian cities on ‘liveability quotient’. Projects on transport, water supply and waste management lined up in 2018 are expected to push it up further, but the poor air quality remains a big concern Breathing trouble in vehicle-busy city

The quality of the air in the city has gone from bad to worse over the past few years. With sea of vehicles plying on roads, Puneites are breathing in polluted air at each traffic signal.

To move ahead, it will be crucial to reduce the air pollution. Along with appropriate traffic control, reducing the number of vehicles on road by improving the public transport system and banning vehicles that produce toxic fumes can help battle the bad air. The other simple measure is planting trees, say experts.

The gradual rise in air pollutants over the years, especially high concentration of particulate matter being detected in the city’s air, has set the alarm bells ringing. Particulate matter is a hazardous air pollutant that can travel deep into the respiratory tract and enter the lungs.

In 2018, it will be crucial to reduce the air pollution, say experts. “The deterioration in air quality is a matter of great public health concern, as it puts even healthy individuals at risk of adverse health effects. Indian Medical Association (IMA) has declared the condition as Public Health Emergency,” says senior medical expert K K Aggarwal, national president, IMA.

Gaseous and particulate matter pollutants cause air pollution. Gaseous air pollutants include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, oxides of sulphur and nitrogen, and ozone. Particulate matter pollutants include all sources and composition of particles that are either 10 microns or less in mean aerodynamic diameter, called PM10 (particles less than 10 microns) or PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 microns) or PM1 or even ultrafine particles (particles less than 100 nanometres in diameter).

“Both these types of pollutants have harmful effects, but on a relative basis, particulate matter air pollution has been shown to be a bigger culprit. And there has been a rise in this pollutant in Pune city,” says senior chest physician Sundeep Salvi, the director of Chest Research Foundation (CRF).

Particulate matter is produced by combustion or heating. Mechanical friction and breakdown of liquid particles also produce it.

Not just the lungs. Pollutants in the city’s air have significant bearing on people’s mental health as well. Recent studies have suggested that air pollution, especially particulate matter (PM) less than 2.5 microns, is associated with the risk of triggering depression and worsening symptoms among those already down with the trait.

Source : TOI

image (1)


Citizens choke on fumes as air quality takes a beating Katraj, Alandi AQI ‘Very Poor’: SAFAR

Are you finding it difficult to breathe? Blame the poor air quality in the city, which hit alow on Thursday.

The quality of air has turned ‘orange’ on the pollution index — an indication of a serious health alert. Pollutant PM 2.5 (particulate matter) values were the highest on Thursday, as illustrated by data from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology’s (IITM) System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). On Thursday, the city’s air quality index (AQI) touched 200, which classified as ‘poor’.

Some doctors have observed a 100% increase in the number of patients complaining of respiratory tract infections every day.

Five out of the 10 SAFARmonitored locations in the city on Thursday were choking on poor-to-very poor air quality due to PM 2.5. ‘Very poor’ AQI means a significant increase in respiratory troubles, and on Thursday, PM 2.5 (one of the worst pollutants) was recorded three or four times higher than the prescribed standard.

Gufran Beig, programme director at SAFAR, said the average 24-hour PM 2.5 values on Thursday were the highest in the last week. “The colder temperature in winter causes the boundary layer of the atmosphere to thin, This, along with calm seasonal winds, causes the pollutants to get trapped near the earth’s surface, hindering their dispersal,” he said.

Data showed that Katraj and Alandi were in the ‘red’ on Thursday, an indication of ‘very poor’ air quality, which may trigger a serious health alert. A SAFAR advisory issued for the two areas said people may experience serious health effects.

Similar levels of pollution may persist on Friday, as per a SAFAR forecast.