Heavy showers throw wet blanket over Pune

72mm In 36 Hrs, No Respite For One More Day
The monsoon returned to the city with a vengeance on Saturday and Sunday after a dry spell lasting weeks. The city recorded 72mm rainfall in the 36 hours from 8.30am on Saturday to 8.30pm on Sunday . The wet spell is likely to continue on Monday too.However, the rains brought along the usual attendant problems like heavy water-logging on the roads, trees getting uprooted and a massive power outage of up to 24 hours for residents of NIBM Road, Kondhwa, Wanowrie and Fatimanagar.

Till Sunday evening, the Khadakwasla catchment had recorded 53mm rainfall, with Varasgaon and Panshet getting 49mm and 46mm respectively .Of the 25 major dams in the Bhima basin, seven were full capacity including Panshet. The ongoing monsoon made up for time lost over two weeks, as rains lashed Pune with a vengeance.

For 36 hours -from 8.30am on Saturday to Sunday 8.30pm -the city received 72mm of rainfall. And if the official word is anything to go by , this will continue for another 24 hours.

The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) Shivajinagar observatory recorded 44.2mm of rainfall between 8.30am and 8.30pm on Sunday , as incessant showers threw a wet blanket across the city .

In the same 12-hour period, the Lohegaon observatory recorded 52.8mm, and 81.8mm rain from 8.30am on Saturday .

The IMD has forecast no let up in the rain for 24 hours, following which the intensity is set to drop.

Waterlogging, trees getting uprooted and massive power outage were but a few of the problems faced by the residents in several areas. Thanks to the rain, and also because it was a Sunday , people stayed indoors, so there were few traffic jams.

The city’s fire brigade received 32 phones calls complaining of fallen trees or branches on the roads. There were no injuries reported, but two cars -one each in Kalyaninagar and Pune Camp -were damaged. The station duty officer told TOI that they had to chop the trees or branches to open the roads to traffic. They also got four complaints of waterlogging. The officer said they used water pumps to ease the problem.

Met officials attributed the revival of showers to a vigorous southwest monsoon over the central parts of Maharashtra -from Nashik in the north to Kolhapur down south -and Marathwada. The monsoon has also been active in Vidarbha, and Konkan and Goa.“Heavy rainfall activity in western Maharashtra and Madhya Maharashtra is due to a low-pressure area in the Vidarbha region. Similar spells are likely in the coming 24 hours,“ said an IMD official.

According to the Met department, Pune, Sunday’s rainfall was the highest recorded in a 12-hour span since July 1.On June 15, Pune had witnessed 56mm of rainfall. Three days later, the city recorded 43mm.

The heavy rains also pushed down Pune’s maximum temperature. On Sunday , the maximum temperatures at Shivajinagar and Lohegaon were at 22.1°C and 21.8°C respectively , which was a deviation of 5 degrees from normal. The minimum temperature at Shivajinagar recorded a minimum temperature of 21.3°C, while Lohegaon recorded 21.2°C.

Not only in Pune, widespread rains were also recorded in many cities in the state on Sunday , with Vidarbha being the exception. In Ahmednagar, there was 112mm of rainfall till 5.30pm. A weather station at Santacruz recorded 86mm of rain till 5.30pm, while Mumbai experienced 43mm of rainfall. At Mahabaleshwar, there was 22mm of rainfall.

Aurangabad in Marathwada recorded 35mm of rainfall on Sunday , while Parbhani and Nanded got 51mm and 35mm respectively .

Source : TOI

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Tweaking of rules leaves city without a single silence zone

Noise Pollution Act Change Before Festive Season A Big Worry For Citizens
The city does not have a single silence zone following amendments in the noise pollution act last week.The Pune Municipal Corporation had declared 1,195 silence zones in the city , including 687 schools, 230 colleges, 201 hospitals and 77 courts. But they cease to exist after the Centre made amendments in the pollution act, according to which the state has to notify the silence zones.

Mangesh Dighe, the environment officer of the PMC, confirmed that there was no silence zone in the city specifically notified directly by the state government. The PMC is now waiting for the state’s locationspecific notifications.

Dighe said, “We notified the silence zones based on the set procedures. These are not based on the new amendments. The future course of action about defining these zones will be taken after the directives of the state government.“

Citizens are now dreading rampant violation of sound norms during the festive season. “Even patients and students would not be spared now,“ acitizen said.

The Centre made changes to the law last week. The matter came to the fore on Wednesday when the state government in formed the Bombay high court that the noise pollution rules of 2000 under the Environment Protection Act stood amended in respect of silence zones.

The state’s advocate-general, Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, told a bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla that “unless the state notifies an area as a silence zone, it may not be possible to consider that area as one.“ He submitted the government’s affidavit with a copy of the August 10 notification issued by the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change in the official gazette, whereby Noise Pollution Rules of 2000 stood “substantially amended“.

As per the affidavit, the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Amendment Rules 2017 came into force from August 10 and “the state is yet to declare any area as a silence zone“.

According to PMC officials, most of the current silence zones in the city are within 100 metres of educational institutions, hospitals, religious places and courts. They must be considered afresh by the state.

Though the city has no silence zone according to the new ru les, those celebrating festivals will not get a free hand for violating the current silence zones.In their order, the judges made it clear that all directions issued under the final judgment and order of the court in August 2016 not affected by the amendment of 2017 would continue to apply .

An official of the PMC’s anti-encroachment department said, “We have drafted the norms for mandals about the pandals, traffic management and sound limits. They are based on 2016 orders by the court and subsequent GRs issued by the state government.“

Source : TOI

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PWD finds no structural fault in Pune’s 518 bridges

Haze Over Stability In Heavy Rains
Every bridge in Pune district is in a good condition, according to a structural audit carried out by the Public Works Department.However, the department stopped just short of assuring that the bridges are ready to withstand heavy rains. “I can only say we found no fault in these bridges as per the parameters we assessed. How (the bridges) will withstand the monsoon, we cannot say ,“ said a senior PWD engineer.

“We have toured the district and checked the bridges from top to base, and wrote a report that states that there are no issues with the constructions in the district,“ he added.

After PWD was rapped by the chief minister and other officials for not completing the survey on time for the monsoon, the department officials submitted the report.“It is with the state government,“ the engineer added. For the purpose of the survey , PWD officials checked each of 518 bridges -89 large and 429 small -in the district. The structural audit assumed paramount importance after the Mahad tragedy in August last year, when a British-era bridge across the Savitri, on the Mumbai-Goa highway , collapsed and claimed the lives of 40 peo ple. The audit is a complex process which involves the extraction of material from the bridges and testing it for sturdiness and age, through the clearance of destructive and non-destructive tests. The results are then evaluated. Besides this, instruments are also used to study the bridge.

A report each on all districts has been submitted, and a final report will be released encompassing all the bridges in the state, the engineer RID IN added. The structural audit also included 39 big and 138 small bridges from the British-era.

While these bridges have received a clean chit from the PWD, a private consultant who was engaged to do a year-long survey of city bridges disagreed. The consultant said nearly 10 bridges in Pune needed immediate repairs. However, an engineer from the Pune Municipal Corporation’s traffic division said they had acted on the consultant’s report, and carri ed out repairs to seven bridges.

“The other bridges should be worked upon in another five or six months,“ the engineer said. B G Birajdar, a professor at the College of Engineering, Pune, said bridges that are 30 years or older must be checked for wear and tear every three -or five at the most -years.

“The assessment should be detailed -compressive strength and other harmful elements in the structure should be tested thoroughly ,“ he said.

Source : TOI

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Techie’s pal reaches Dubai before he gets to Hinjewadi

Congestion A Concern With Commuters
People often reach Dubai faster from Lohegaon than Hinjewadi.About 2,000km away , the flight time to Dubai from Pune in this season is about three hours. Drico ving to Hinjewadi, barene ly 30km away , often takes t longer. Bizarre but true. Te chie Aniket Chorage (27), working in an IT company at Hinjewadi (Phase-3), experienced it on Tuesday evening when he went to drop a friend to the Lohegaon airport in his car.

Aniket’s friend had to board a SpiceJet flight to Dubai.Its departure time was 8.15pm.After confirming his friend was comfortable in the aircraft around 8pm, Aniket left for his office in Hinjewadi. Before he could drive to his workplace, his buddy was out of the Dubai airport completing immigration and other formalities.

Recalling the late evening traffic frenzy, Aniket told TOI, “We reached the airport around 6.30pm on Tuesday and my friend got inside the terminal building for check-in. I waited outside until his formalities were over.“

The young man, a resident of Katraj, started for his office from the airport around 8pm af ter his friend told him over the phone the flight was on time.

“After driving 10 minutes along the Airport Road, I found it completely clogged. By the ti me I reached Yerawada, there was bumper-to-bumper traffic and hardly any vehicle was mo ving,“ the techie said.

“Around 11.10pm, I was in Baner -about 18km from the airport. I was pondering over my bitter driving experience for a little over three hours when I got a call from my fri end. He told me that he was at the Dubai airport (around 2,053km from here). I didn’t know how to react but we exchanged concerns over the city traffic,“ he said.

The SpiceJet authorities confirmed the flight reached Dubai around 23.00 hours IST (11pm) on Tuesday . Dubai international airport is among the world’s busiest facilities with passenger traffic of 66 million a year and flights to over 260 destinations. A passenger takes almost half-an-hour to collect the baggage and go through the immigration after landing there.

Aniket could reach his workplace only around 11.40pm. “I am sure my friend had reached his home in Dubai by then,“ he retorted.

Aniket had to tackle congestion all through his way . There was traffic everywhere -be it Yerawada, Bund Garden, Karve Road or Chandani Chowk.

Traffic in Hinjewadi and Baner is always a concern for citizens. Ditto on the roads touching the airport.

“Earlier, I used to take my car to work but now I have switched to a two-wheeler because it is easier to manoeuver. Isn’t it weird that I am taking threeand-a-half hours to reach Hinjewadi from the airport while another person is reaching Dubai before me?“ Aniket asked poignantly , triggering posers on the chaotic traffic.

Source : TOI

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Chorus grows for scrapping 24X7 water supply project

A Section Of Ruling Party Leaders Want PMC To Draw Up A New Proposal
A section of the city BJP leaders are pitching for the cancellation of the 24X7 water supply project after playing a major role in convincing chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to issue an order for scrapping its tenders.Party sources told TOIthat the demand for a fresh 24X7 water project proposal might gain momentum in the next few days and pressure could be exerted on the civic administration to scrap the existing proposal. Supporters of Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Kakade were in full support of the fresh proposal and the leader might take up this issue with the chief minister, said the sources.

A group of senior city BJP leaders have also come up with a similar demand. They want the civic administration to scrap the 24X7 project and draft a new proposal for tabling before the general body (GB) of the Pune Municipal Corporation.

Senior BJP leaders Ujwal Keskar and Suhas Kulkarni have written a letter to municipal commissioner Kunal Kumar, stating that the GB had sanctioned a project titled `Equitable Water Supply’, which included leak detection, water audit and analysis of hydraulic defects.

“The original project cost was Rs450 crore and now the 24X7 water project is being executed at a cost of about Rs3,000 crore. These two are completely separate projects and the 24X7 project has not received any sanction of the GB or the standing committee,“ Keskar told TOI.

Keskar and Kulkarni insisted in a letter that the civic administration must withdraw the existing project. “Only scrapping of tenders will not help. The entire project must be scrapped and a new proposal must be tabled for approval,“ said Kulkarni.

Source : TOI

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Love for selfie pushes many too close to risk near dam

Police Plug Khadakwasla Access Holes
Obsessed with capturing that perfect pout, revellers are precariously balancing themselves near the sluice gates of Khadakwasla for selfies even as water gushes out of the dam.An Instagram or Facebook search on `#khadakwasla’ or `#khadakwasladam’ and thumbnail of photo pop-ups shows the risks people are willing to take for just a selfie at the dam.

Young parents could be seen with toddlers standing in the water, which could endanger their lives considering the force with which the water flows. Teenagers are also spotted striking poses as they stand in the water, turning a deaf ear to the sirens warning the revellers about the opening of sluice gates.

“People are aware that it is dangerous to venture into the water when the sluice gates are open and water is being released. Yet, they choose to ignore the safety norms just to get a perfect picture. We have been trying to do our level best to inform people about the danger associated with such behaviours,“ said Pandurang Shelar, executive engineer of the Khadakwasla irrigation division.

He added that around 10 police personnel are deployed to warn people about the danger and keep a check on the crowd.Sounding sirens to warn revellers to get out of water is never enough; the police person nel have to man the area and drive them out sometime.

Tejaswini Satpute, additional superintendent of police (Pune rural), told TOI that there were 18 spots around the Khadakswasla from where the revellers get access to the dam and its backwaters.

“We have closed all these points to prevent the revellers from going near the dam or its backwaters,“ the officer said.

She added that despite the restrictions, many people argue with police, jump over the barricades and risk their lives by going near the water. “On weekends, we have to deploy more force to control the rush,“ Satpute said.

The irrigation department is now planning to put up more boards warning people about the danger. They already have four-five boards in place.

“It is not possible for us to warn every person going into the water. We hope that these boards will at least make them conscious of the danger. Yet people fail to learn a lesson,“ Shelar said.

TIMES VIEW:

There is an urgent need to control the obsession of taking selfies at the cost of risking life. It was appalling to see a couple and their child standing outside the Khadakwasla dam gates from where water was being released.Several deaths have been reported when people were trying to take selfies in lakes, dams and at cliffs. Yet most revellers are refusing to learn a lesson. While blocking entry at such places and deploying police are a way to check the craze, one cannot post police everywhere. Ultimately, it is the people who have to exercise caution, be prudent and behave in a responsible manner.

Source : TOI

 

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Forest dept to clear loose rocks from Sinhagad ghat

Focus Is On 5 Areas Prone To Landslips
Sunday’s landslide in the ghat section leading up to Sinhagad fort has prompted the state S forest department to s remove loose boulders from at least five more landslide-prone spots in the nine-km ghat.These were the immediate measures to avert more instances of landslides during the two remaining monsoon months.

Sunday’s landslide has forced the department to close the ghat road for vehicles for the next few days.The department’s officials said the work has been taken up on a war footing at the landslide-prone spots.

The ghat may be reopened by this weekend.

“We said the ghat will be closed for seven days but we will attempt to open the road before the deadline. We are receiving requests from visitors every day wanting to travel up the ghat. As of now, we have rejected any such queries considering the safety aspect,“ officials in the state forest department said.

They clarified that the road is closed for work to be completed without impedi ments. The department has pressed earthmovers and a team of workers to speed up the clearing, officials ad ded.

A tragedy was averted on Sunday when loose boul ders rolled down the road af ter heavy showers.

Visitors to the fort remo ved the boulders to clear the road for vehicles. The fort attracts hordes of tourists in the monsoon. Officials said the clea ring work from five spots was a temporary measure and the long-term solution of fixing of nets should be taken up.

The Public Works Department has delayed fixing the nets for more than a year citing technical reasons.

The delay has pushed the forest department to look for options. The department recently approached Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) for agencies that have installed safety nets in the ghat section on PuneMumbai expressway.

“We will approach these agencies about a survey of Sinhagad ghat and provide their suggestions about fixing the nets,“ officials said.

If PWD fails to execute the project, the forest department will approach the state government to seek further clearances for appointment of an agency to put up the safety nets.

Source : TOI

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