Wednesday, January 4, 2017

NGT does the right thing to stay metro rain work on riverbed in Pune!

Well done NGT! In fact, no such 'development' projects be allowed on river beds and even on flood plains.

Time the govt. of India as well as state government wake up to the sorry plight of our rivers and their flood plains!

Ranjan Panda
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NGT stays metro rail work on riverbed in Pune

Response to EIL by prominent citizens on 1.7 km stretch that runs through Mula-Mutha riverbank ecosystem

: The western zone bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued an interim stay on a proposed portion of the metro rail route passing through the Mula-Mutha riverbed in the city on Monday.
A two-judge bench of Justices U.D. Salvi and Dr. Ajay Deshpande passed the directive acting on an Environmental Interest Litigation (EIL) filed in the NGT on May 26 last year by a group of prominent Pune citizens, which contended that in the proposed metro rail alignment, a 1.7 km stretch passing through the left bank of the Mula-Mutha river could spell the death knell for the riverbank ecosystem along that route.
The petitioners in the EIL included Member of Parliament Anu Aga, senior journalist late Dileep Padgaonkar, architect Sarang Yadwadkar and environmentalist Aarti Kirloskar.

Phase I will be hit

A stay on work on this stretch, which falls on Line 2, will naturally affect work on the entire Phase I of the project. This line, totalling around 15 km in length and linking Vanaz with Ramwadi, is expected to be the first to be built in the project.
The lawyer representing the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) proposed that the Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), which will implement the Pune Metro project, be made a respondent as well, to which the judges agreed. In the EIL, the petitioners had named the PMC, the Maharashtra Government, the Central government, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board as respondents.
“This is nothing but delaying tactics on the PMC’s part to buy time,” Mr. Yadwadkar told The Hindu. He reiterated the need for the PMC to come up with an alternative route for this segment of the proposed network, while remarking that the objection in the EIL was specifically with regards to the proposed alignment on the riparian zone of the river, which was bound to be harmed if the project was implemented in its current form.
The project, touted as a panacea for Pune’s nightmarish traffic woes, was recently inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 24 amid much political acrimony between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) scrambling to take credit for it.
Many felt the project was hurriedly greenlighted keeping in mind the rapidly approaching Pune civic polls.
“This is an important ruling, which clearly proves that the inauguration of the project was done in a hasty manner with scant regard for environmental concerns,” said advocate Asim Sarode, who is representing the petitioners.
The next hearing has been postponed till January 26.
Earlier, in September last year, a report by the PMC’s Biodiversity Monitoring Committee had corroborated the objections in the EIL against the Pune Metro, stressing that the present alignment on the Mutha riverbed, from the Panchaleshwar temple to Nava Pul, would allegedly “destroy the biodiversity of what remained of the riparian zone (the interface or space between the existing water and the actual riverbank) still untouched by urban incursions.”
It had noted that the removal of trees to make way for the project would severely rupture the natural habitat of birds of at least 18 different species and adversely affect 63 species of exotic flowering plants.


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