#VInitasPune: Aimless Dumping Of Construction Material Poses High Risk

Pollution - Construction Dust Levels
Image used for representation only.

Indiscriminate disposal of construction and demolition material on hill slopes, road sides and river banks is truly a mockery of the Public Health & Sanitation Bye-Laws 2017.

Besides, it also exposes the Pune Municipal Corporation’s inefficiency and inability to handle this dumping.

I pass the Senapati Bapat Road almost every day and was shocked when I noticed a huge fresh pile of construction material dumped on the roadside. It did not exist, until last week. The immediate thought that came to my mind was the slush and danger it would create to commuters when the rains lash the city.

Moreover, such a violation on an arterial road going unnoticed by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is shocking. Well, this is just small part of the horror that awaits us this monsoon season. 

Last week, residents of Bibewadi protested with a signed petition to the Municipal Commissioner complaining of a large volume of construction material that was discarded on a hill top. This in the vicinity of several residential societies that will have to bear the brunt of the slurry that will flow down once the rains set it. The PMC has presently stopped construction work of a project responsible for this disposal but the threat of the sludge entering their homes allegedly still persists. Since the last few years, residents of Bavdhan have been protesting against such dumping in the Ramnadi River that had caused flash floods in 2010, killing 11 people. In 2015, residents of Wagholi and Kharadi suffered the backlash of such indiscriminate dumping, due to monsoons.

These two neighbourhoods have lost about 35% of their streams due to unbridled building development! 

Noted social activist and politician, Vandana Chavan recently posted on her FB account on how Pune Metro has been carelessly throwing its construction material on river beds. Writes Vandana, ‘what could this kind of dumping for Metro construction in the riverbed lead to? Floods for Pune!!! Has the PMC Pune forgotten flood situation in 1997 and floods also thereafter?’’ Social activist, Sarang Yadwadkar, along with other activists have been fighting against this menace for a decade of so now, even seeking legal intervention for construction of road and buildings in the red and blue lines on the banks of the river which is prohibited for any development.

The rivers of Mula and Mutha run through the heart of Pune and the various small streams that join them are havens for indiscriminate dumping of all kinds of garbage. However, it is the Construction & Demolition Waste (C&D Waste) that poses the biggest threat to Puneites residing in almost all our neighbourhoods.

It has choked the rivers and streams resulting in flash floods, which have become an annual norm and have gravely endangered the lives of many Puneites living near the river banks.

A Pune focussed research paper stated `With rapid economic growth after the development of SEZs and subsequent increase in urbanisation in Pune, environmental impacts from construction and demolition (C&D) waste are increasingly becoming a major issue in urban solid waste management. Environmental issues such as increase in flood levels due to illegal dumping of C & D waste into rivers, resource depletion, shortage of landfill and illegal dumping on hill slopes are evident in the city.’’ (Reference: CONSTRUCTION AND DEMOLITION WASTE MANAGEMENT – A CASE STUDY OF PUNE. Anagal Vaishali1 , Nagarkar Geeta , Atnurkar Kanchan& Patel Anisha).

To counter this mammoth problem, the PMC has implemented its Public Health & Sanitation Bye-Laws 2017 which comprises disposal of all kinds of waste in a systematic manner.

According to it, the definition is thus: `”Construction and Demolition Waste (C&D Waste)” means the waste resulting from construction, remodellng, repair, renovation or demolition of structures or from land clearing activities, trenching or de-silting activities. “Structures” for the purposes of this definition means buildings of all types (both residential and non-residential), utilities, infrastructure facilities and any other type of man-made structure. C&D Waste includes, but is not limited to bricks, concrete, rubble and other masonry materials, soil, trees, any type of vegetation, rock, wood (including painted, treated and coated wood and wood products), land clearing waste, wall coverings, plaster, drywall, plumbing fixtures, non-hazardous insulation, roofing, waterproofing material and other roof coverings, asphalt pavement, glass, plastics, paper, gypsum boards, electrical wiring and components containing no hazardous materials, pipes, steel, aluminium and other non-hazardous metals used in construction of structures.’’

The PMC had also demarcated a portion of the landfill site in Urali Devachi for facilitating builders to dump C&D waste. However, due to the distance and the cost, the builders ignored this facility and now you have umpteen pockets of our city filled with this dangerous trash.

Despite this being a major risk to citizens, why is the PMC so callous in dealing with the offenders?Why has it not woken up despite people having lost their lives due to flash floods in 2010?

Doesn’t it remember that NDRF teams had to be got to rescue people and boats were used to get people out of their apartments due to flooding of their ground area? 

Honestly, do we really have any right to gloat about our city being classified a `Smart City’? 

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#All views expressed in this column are those of the Author and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them. 

Vinita Deshmukh

Vinita Deshmukh

Passion for the written word that comes alive, not only to tell a story, but to speak out loud about all that's good, bad and the ugly in society...

That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.

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