May 10th, 2013
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is expected to begin work on equitable distribution of water in the city in the next few months. At a seminar on wastewater technology for a green economy, organized by the society for environment education research and management, V G Kulkarni, PMC’s water department chief said that as of now, there is imbalance in the distribution system. The core areas of the city get adequate water supply, but the situation is different in the fringe areas. The civic body has envisaged 100% metered water supply in the city to tide over this imbalance. A detailed project report on equitable water distribution would be ready in the next two months. He said, “The civic body has appointed a consultant for the equitable water distribution project which will be implemented over four to five years”. “The civic body is supplying 1,150 MLD (million litres per day) water for the city’s 40 lakh population. This supply works out to 300 litres per capita per day (lpcd) which is almost double the yardstick. However, it is not true that all citizens get that much water. The core city areas get more than the fringe areas.
He added that the consultant has been studying the total water distribution system. The civic body has a total of 70 water reservoirs and the supply is being monitored. The cost of implementation of equitable distribution of water project is over Rs 1,500 crore. The city lacks a water metering system and citizens pay a lumpsum tax up to Rs 1,100 per year irrespective of the water they use. The civic body has planned to implement 100% water metering system. Sewage treatment is also a concern as the city is not able to treat the entire 750 MLD sewage generated. The treatment plants have the capacity to treat only 567 MLD. The civic body has tied up with Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran to meet the demands for treating all the sewage generated by 2047.
April 30th, 2013
The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) had taken strict action on unauthorized constructions by snapping water connections and serving notices to those occupying such buildings. NCP corporator Shantaram Bhalekar from Talawade village said the civic body is sending notices to the people through police with instructions to vacate their houses in a week. There have been instances of water connections being snapped in several areas.
Mayor Mohini Lande said the civic administration must be sympathetic towards the poor people who have built small houses for themselves though without permission. According to Municipal commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi, “The civic administration serves notices directly to the owners of unauthorized constructions that were built after March 31, 2012. However, if our officials think they could be threatened, they seek police help to serve the notices. The civic body is demolishing unauthorized constructions directly which have been built after April 1, 2012 and are not occupied by anyone. But in cases where such constructions are built after April 1, 2012, but are occupied, the civic body sends notices to the people directing them to vacate the premises so that it can be demolished and they do not suffer any damages.” Pardeshi also added that Pimpri Chinchwad is different from cities like Pune, which also have large number of unauthorized constructions, because the high court percentage through its first order on February 3, 2011, had ordered the PCMC to demolish unauthorized constructions in its municipal limits. “A period of more than two years has lapsed since then. Any new construction can be built in a few months to two years. Pardeshi also said that the people know about the high court directive as the civic administration had started taking action against unauthorized constructions after this directive. Therefore, nobody can claim that he is unaware of the high court order.
April 29th, 2013
Pedestrians First, a Citizens group, has urged the Pune Municipal Corporation for saving trees from the deadly menace of concretizing of roads. In a memorandum submitted to the Pune Municipal Corporation, Prashant Inamdar of Pedestrians First said roads are being concretized extensively in the city, and in some cases, fresh tarring is being done. At many places, there are trees at roadsides or in the footpath zone. According to Inamdar, “The trunk of tree is sealed with concrete on all sides leaving no space for breathing and growth. When footpaths are constructed or repaired on these roads and elsewhere, cement blocks are tightly packed all around the tree. All this has a suffocating effect on the tree and is bound to have adverse effect on its health. There will not be any water percolation due to lack of soil surface and this will affect survival of younger trees. It is also possible that the growing trunk of large trees would dislocate the footpath blocks causing the footpath surface to bulge out and become uneven which is hazardous for pedestrians”. He also requested to the municipal commissioner Mahesh Pathak to order inspection of all roads and footpaths for identifying locations where concretizing has been done. He also added that at all such places, minimum 2 feet space around the tree should be cleared and soil surface restored with due care to prevent any damage to the tree trunk or roots.
April 24th, 2013
Over 13 lakh trees have been illegally cut in Maharashtra owned forests since 2005, depriving Maharashtra of its precious forest wealth. The forest officials and activists say that the number of felled trees could be a miniscule fraction of the total tree strength in the state’s forests; it is a worrisome drop nonetheless. Over the last eight years, the state’s forests have lost one to two lakh trees every year. Incidentally, Pune circle has recorded the lowest felling incidence over the years, with 376 trees illicitly cut between January and December 2012.
A senior state official of the forest department said that although the situation cannot be considered alarming, the incidence of tree felling in forests could not be ignored, as it is detrimental to the environment. According to the official, “A lot of illicit tree felling is observed in Sironcha in Gadchiroli district as it is near the state border of Andhra Pradesh and has considerable Naxal activity. Also, this type of illegal tree felling is prominent in Dhule, where considerable encroachment is seen in forests when villagers enter forest areas under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and cut trees and build habitations”. The official added that the government has also formed a committee to check illicit tree felling in Gadchiroli. “Other protection measures include providing forest guards and other officials with 750 pistols and 800 self-loading rifles as well as training 3,000 officials across the state in measures needed to reduce illicit felling of trees. We also recently gave 100 additional jeeps to range forest officers in affected areas such as Dhule and Gadchiroli as part of their mobile squad units,” he added.
The highest incidence of illicit tree felling is seen in the year 2009-10, when over 2 lakh trees were cut in state-owned forests. Forests in the Dhule circle topped with 46,131 trees illegally cut, tailed by the Nagpur circle showing 27,208 trees illegally chopped, followed by south Chandrapur with 21,318 trees cut, among others. Pune circle in this year recorded 3675 trees illegally cut in its forest areas. Kishor Rithe, member of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), however, called the situation serious, especially since the country was endeavoring to achieve a 33% forest cover as per the National Forest Policy of 1988. According to Rithe, cutting trees in such landscapes leads to fragmentation of forests, which ultimately results in animals straying into human habitats. This leads to economic losses by way of crop raiding by herbivores, life stock killings and attack on humans by carnivores.
April 24th, 2013
Before starting the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) on the busy road, the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation has decided to carry out a safety audit of the Pune-Mumbai highway. The decision was taken during a standing committee meeting. Chairman of standing committee Navnath Jagtap said a short notice resolution to appoint IIT-Powai to conduct the safety audit, at an expenditure of Rs 16.40 lakh, was approved at the meeting. The World Bank had suggested that the civic body conduct a safety audit of the highway before introducing the system.
The civic body had widened the 12-km stretch of the highway from Nigdi to Dapodi to 10 lanes, four years ago. The central concrete stretch of the highway, which is called the express lane, allows vehicles to travel non-stop between Bhakti Shakti chowk in Nigdi and Phugewadi chowk. There are three lanes of service road each on both sides of the concrete lanes. The lanes adjacent to the concrete lanes are to be used for the BRTS buses. The civic body has already started constructing bus shelters on the road divider between the BRTS lane and the concrete lane. Shiv Sena corporator Seema Savale had raised several safety concerns about the proposed BRTS bus service on the highway. She had made a presentation in this regard before municipal commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi about a month back, wherein she pointed out that when the vehicles from concrete lanes try to come on to the service road, they would have to cross the BRT lanes, which may cause accidents with the BRT buses. Similarly, when vehicles from service road try to enter the concrete road through the merge outs, they will have to cross the BRTS lanes, with a possibility of causing accidents. Further accidents are likely to occur when vehicles from one side of the highway have to cross the concrete lanes to go on the other side using subways because they would have to cross the path of the BRTS buses twice.
The other issue discussed at the meeting was the proposal of awarding contract for collection and transportation of garbage in two wards.
April 23rd, 2013
The State Government had imposed tax to the traders who bring goods valued more than Rs 5,000 into the city and have an annual turnover of more than Rs 1 lakh. The traders have to pay the tax to the local body. Traders have to enrol themselves with the Local Body Tax department by April 30. So far, over 4000 traders have registered themselves with Local Body Tax department. The Federation of Associations of Pimpri Chinchwad, a group of 23 different traders’ organizations from Pimpri-Chinchwad, is opposing the imposition of the tax. The federation had called a strike from April 1 to 6. During the bandh period, a total of 1,452 traders had registered with the municipal corporation. Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation assistant commissioner Ashok Munde said, “There is a steady response from traders in Pimpri Chinchwad for the Local Body Tax registration. We expect more traders to enrol themselves with the Local Body Tax department as the state government is firm on not abolishing the tax.” He also said, “The Local Body Tax department had earlier conducted workshops to create awareness about the levy, enrolment, payment and other aspects for traders and industrialists. It is ready to conduct more such workshops if the traders demand that their doubts be cleared.”
The department has prepared a special online facility for the enrolment and payment of Local Body Tax to the civic body on the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation website, www.pcmcindia.gov.in. Traders can also log on to the website for information about Local Body Tax rules, rates, handbook and registration form. Traders have to pay Rs 100 to the civic body as registration charges. Those who have VAT numbers can be registered fast as they are deemed Local Body Tax holders. As many as 4,731 traders have registered for the Local Body Tax so far with the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation.
April 22nd, 2013
In order to speedup the verification and validation of land surveys in cities including Pune, Thane, Amravati, and Nashik, the state land records department has decided to increase the number of city survey and enquiry officers. They have also requested the government to provide Electronic Total Station (ETS) equipment to produce zero-defect maps. According to Chandrakant Dalvi, the director of land records and settlement commissioner, “We have proposed to increase the strength of the officers who will be conducting and validating land surveys across the state including bigger cities. For instance, Pune has a limited number of land survey officers, while the cases pending for validation and notification are more, especially after merger of villages. Like Pune, many other cities and towns in the state require additional staff.”
The validation and notification of land survey are an essential step to generate property card and disburse it to the owner. According to the Sources, the appointment of additional enquiry staff would quicken the process of disbursement of property cards to land owners. Pune, Thane, Nashik, Amravati, and Mira-Bhayander are major cities that require additional enquiry staff. Besides, staff is also required to conduct surveys of over 2500 villages with a population of more than 2000 people. Dalvi said that the department also wants to conduct accurate surveys of land with the help of advanced machinery. Dalvi added that the department has initiated steps to implement e-mutation and e-chavdi projects across the state, which will assist the citizens to complete mutation entries on 7/12 extracts in lesser time, while e-chavdi software will help the department to maintain updated records of lands. Dalvi further said that the department has launched its new website, which is informative and citizen-centric. Dalvi also added that, “We want to provide zero-defect maps to citizens through ETS machines. The department at present has only 332 such machines. Taking into account the amount of work we are handling, we need at least 1,500 ETS machines. We have urged the government to allocate funds for the machines”.
April 16th, 2013
The Member of Parliament Supriya Sule speaking at a function said only 7% of the total water in dams is used for industrial purposes, leaving the rest for drinking and agriculture purposes. She said there was a deliberate attempt from a section of society to create an impression that water meant for drinking purpose was being diverted to industries by the state government. Sule was speaking at a function where 123 students from drought-hit areas were given cheques worth Rs 4,500 each, under the drought-hit students assistance mission. The youth wing of the NCP and Ahmednagar Mitra Mandal organized the function. Rajeev Rajale, former member of legislative assembly from Ahmednagar, chairman of MHADA-Pune Ankush Kakade, chairman of Mumbai unit of NCP and Member of Parliament Sanjay Dina Patil, musician Lalit Pandit and actor Aftab Shivdasani were present at the function. Rajale said that the total financial aid provided to students would be around Rs 5.50 lakh and are planning to cover more students from Ahmednagar area in coming days.
Sule said Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has taken up the issue of pending demands of professors and lecturers in colleges and has managed to get Rs 1,500 crore for the state from the Centre. Each professor, benefiting from it would receive close to Rs 5-10 lakh in the next week, as their pending dues. I would like to appeal to professors to withdraw their strike and report to work. Aftab Shivdasani and Lalit Pandit also donated Rs 1 lakh and Rs 50,000 respectively for the drought-hit. Sanjay Patil has already announced Rs 5 lakh help for the cause. According to Sule, “The state government has received Rs 1,800 crore to provide drinking water for rural population and fodder for cattle. Besides, the money would also be used to complete some pending irrigation projects, repair of dams and water supply schemes.” She added that one more delegation comprising state chief minister and deputy chief minister would approach the Centre to seek further financial assistance. We need to think of next three months until monsoon arrives.
April 16th, 2013
The Pune Municipal Corporation has urged citizens to buy property only after proper verification of the structure’s legality. Such information has been made available for the citizens on its official website www.pmcalert.org. According to Additional City Engineer Vivek Kharwadkar, “The citizens should keep away from illegal constructions. A list of all PMC-approved building plans has been put up on our website and for structures apart from those, citizens should check with the civic offices concerned to avoid loss of property or life in case of any eventuality”.
In a press statement, the civic administration stated that if any citizen wants to file a complaint or provide information about illegal constructions, then they could do so on the website. The civic administration has urged citizens to provide information on any construction that is being done in haste. According to the civic administration, “The PMC will not provide any civic services to illegal buildings in the city.” It also stated that citizens should get information on completion certificate of any construction before using it for residential purpose. Meanwhile, PMC has intensified its drive against illegal constructions and demolished several structures in Baner and Sangamwadi. Kharwadkar said, “The civic administration has taken up work to identify illegal constructions that are dangerous and need to be demolished. It has also started the process of filing criminal cases against the developer of illegal constructions”.
Kharwadkar said that the civic administration has identified 27 illegal constructions in Taljai, where an illegal building collapsed in September leading to the death of 11 persons. These 27 illegal constructions in Taljai are found in an unsafe condition. According to him, “The PMC has served notice to the residents of three buildings, asking them to vacate them, and has also decided to undertake detailed structure audit of the remaining 24 buildings”.
April 15th, 2013
The district administration has banned the builders from using the drinking water in rural parts of Pune that are reeling under an acute water scarcity for construction purpose. The Pune civic body has already issued similar instructions to builders for projects in the city limits. The District collector Vikas Deshmukh has asked revenue officials in rural parts and chief executive officers of municipal councils to initiate action if they find drinking water being used at construction sites. Deshmukh has said that builders and contractors can use water from private sources like wells and bore wells, but should avoid sourcing water from public water supply schemes. Deshmukh further pointed out that the demand for water tankers in rural parts such as Indapur, Shirur, Purandar and Baramati has increased in the last couple of weeks. In addition to maintaining daily supply of water through tankers to areas facing a scarcity, about 600 additional water storage tanks have been given in water-scarce areas by non-governmental organizations and co-operative societies. About 2.12 lakh people in Pune’s rural parts are dependent on water tankers to meet their daily requirement of water. The collector said that builders and contractors have expressed willingness to provide equipment and machinery required for irrigation related work proposed in the scarcity hit areas. The administration has undertaken the programs of desilting lakes and channeling nullahs in rural parts.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) approached the district collector with a demand that drought be declared in Pune district. Anil Shidore of MNS said that for last three consecutive years, the district has registered very poor rainfall and the water level in dams in Pune district has gone down. He also added that farming activities have faced a major set back and that the administration should deploy additional tankers to streamline drinking water supply in drought-hit areas and provide fodder to cattle.