MahaMetro told to clean up dumped debris at riverbed

Following several complaints by city-based environmentalists and civic activists, warning of a possible major increase in flood levels due to huge dumping of debris in the Mula-Mutha river by Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation (MahaMetro), the superintending engineer of the Pune water resources department has asked the Metro authorities to immediately remove this debris and platforms from the riverbed, in an effort to avoid a calamity during the impending monsoon.

In a letter issued last week on Saturday, 22nd May 2021, to Metro managing director Ramnath Subramanyam, the irrigation department has stated that the debris dumped during work on Metro piers coming up at the riverbed may cause the waterbody’s flood levels to rise by at least two metres, submerging the entire area.

Superintending engineer SD Chopde further claimed that Metro authority has been informed in the past about the same topic, rampant dumping near Deccan to construct pillars, and huge amounts of debris thrown into the Mula-Mutha confluence behind CID Office. Despite the warnings, these piles of debris have not been removed.

The fresh missive by the water resources department is an outcome of visits and inspections by its officials along Mutha river. They noticed that additional debris had filled more than two metres of the riverbed, which bodes ill on multiple fronts. In his letter, Chopde further said, “If the debris isn’t removed from the riverbed, it can create impediment in the flood-carrying section of the river, leading to a natural calamity. Therefore, you are requested once again that the debris/platform be removed immediately before the coming rainy season. If any case is filed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), in case of flood-like situation in the rainy season due to the debris, MahaMetro will be held entirely responsible.”

Elaborating on the transgression, environmentalist Sarang Yadwadkar said Metro alignment should anyway be as per the development plan (DP), and not on the riverbed. “Seeing such huge dumping and platforms inside the riverbeds, we immediately informed the water resources department and district collector to take cognisance,” said Yadwadkar, adding, “We have been demanding that the Metro not be constructed on the riverbed as it may cause damage, but the authorities did not pay us any heed. Now, MahaMetro has failed to complete its work and the amount of dumped debris may invite a big disaster during the rains.”

MahaMetro public relation officer (PRO), Hemant Sonawane, claimed, “We have received the letter from the water resources department. We have already started removing the debris from the aforementioned area. Before the rains come, debris will be removed from flood-prone areas.” This elevated Pune Metro route is coming up on a 1.45-km stretch of the riverbed. Around 60 pillars are being raised here to support the Metro viaduct.

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