BARAMATI MLA and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar chaired a meeting of the Canal Committee in Pune on Saturday and asked officials of the State Irrigation Department to fast-track work on pending projects to meet the needs of urban as well as rural parts of Pune district, without causing any friction between the two sides.
Pawar, a former state irrigation minister, asked officials to start work on the delayed Bhama Askhed pipeline project, which has been stalled due to farmers’ protests over land acquisition. Pawar said the state government has already approved the formula of providing compensation, at Rs 15 lakh per hectare, to farmers.
Launched in 2014, the project was expected to be completed by July 2017. The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) subsequently pushed the project deadline to January 26, 2020, but the project will not be completed by then. The PMC’s plans to expedite the pipeline project recently hit another hurdle, as local residents have stopped work over their demand for compensation.
“This project will contribute 2.5 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) water to the city and issues pertaining to lack of water supply for Pune will be resolved to a considerable extent,” Pawar said at the meeting.
Currently, Pune gets 11.5 TMC water from the Irrigation Department. The PMC has been demanding a larger quota of water to meet the increasing demands of Pune city residents. This plan has, however, faced resistance from other parts of the district, especially from farmers who also get water for farm irrigation from Khadakwasla and other dams in the vicinity of the city.
Pawar said the Mundhwa water recycling plan was not working to its full capacity and efforts should be made to resolve these issues. He also sought to know if a water transport project to connect Khadakwasla dam to Fursungi would work better if the water was transported via a tunnel rather than through a pipeline. Irrigation Department officials said transporting it through a tunnel may help save water.
“The financial burden for this project should be shared equally by PMC and the state government. I will follow up on this issue with the government,” said the NCP leader.
Pawar also urged urban as well as rural consumers to use water judiciously.