Irrigation dept and PMC push cleaning responsibility around as residents face stench and swarms of mosquitoes, fear further issues with rains set to begin
It is unfortunately not uncommon in this city to see its waterbodies, large and small, choked to the brim with garbage and toxic waste nor is it unexpected to find authorities dilly dallying over cleaning these up, leaving surrounding residents and passers-by at regular risk.Now, it is a canal in the Solapur Bazaar area -which takes water from Khadakwasla Dam and ironically joins a purification plant behind St Mary’s School in Cantonment -which has been so blocked with mounds of plastic bags, thermocol sheets and other refuse that local residents have been suffering from a stench and swarms of mosquitoes breeding there for the last 1.5 years.And, expectedly, the concerned authorities are playing a blame game that has left the whole matter festering and unresolved.
The canal belongs to the state irrigation department, with which the task of keeping it clean also lies. However, after ignoring it since 2014, the department has now slid the responsibility in the direction of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), saying that the canal’s water is currently being used for drinking purposes, which makes it the civic body’s maintenance responsibility.
The canal’s water is purified at a plant under the Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) and channeled to the city’s east, covering Hadapsar, Yerwada, Vishrantwadi, Kalyani Nagar, Kharadi and Mundhwa.According to officials, only five per cent of this water is distributed under PCB’s jurisdiction.
Reiterating the irrigation department’s stance, official P V Shelar told Mirror, “Since PMC is using the water at the moment, maintenance falls under their jurisdiction. When we use water for irrigation, we keep the canal clean -in fact, we have done so in the past with this one as well. We have already sent a letter to the corporation, asking it to take up the cleaning work as soon as possible.“
However, superintending engineer of the PMC water supply department, V G Kulkarni, asserted, “It is not at all our responsibility. We are already paying more for the canal water than we pay for water from Khadakwasala Dam. It comes under the irrigation department’s jurisdiction and we have not received any letter from them asking us to take up the maintenance work.“
Caught in between, PCB chief engineer Sukhadev Patil said, “We have repeatedly written to the irrigation department, but no one has responded.Water from the canal goes to our treatment plant, where it gets cleaned and is supplied as drinking water to Cantonment areas. Often, even dead bodies of humans and animals float into the water treatment plant. We have had to call in the fire brigade to fish out corpses and carcasses.“ PCB vicepresident Dilip Girmkar echoed, “After the Ganpati festival, the canal gets choked with festive waste and requires urgent cleaning then. PCB had done this cleaning after the festival last year with a JCB machine, but it can only access the upper portion. More advanced machinery is required for cleaning, which the irrigation department has.But, even though the monsoon is poised to begin, they have still not lifted a finger.“
Usually, once the rains begin, there are high chances of canal water getting blocked by the waste, subsequently providing a petri dish for mosquito breeding and vector-borne epidemics.
Quizzed about such possible health issues, PCB health official S R Khandre supplied, “The irrigation department is mum on our communications.If no work is undertaken even within a week, we will have to do it ourselves.“
Patil also said, “Most of the waste comes from the Gultekdi area, where several waste pickers leave their findings in the canal.“ However, Malati Gadgil of NGO Kagad Kaach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), refuted, “While Dias Plot in Gultekdi hosts a waste picker’s colony, it is unlikely that they are disposing of waste in the canal.“
Meanwhile, local residents are frustrated with the status quo. Raju Shah told Mirror, “We have been facing a terrible mosquito problem and the stink for more than a year as no one from the irrigation department has done any cleaning here.Thermocol waste in particular is in abundance here. The source needs to be located.“ Another resident, Bablu Pille, said, “Where is the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan when you need it? This issue will get worse once it starts raining, with overflowing dirty water spreading the filth everywhere.“
Source : Mirror