Pune, October 12, 2015: The College of Military Engineering (CME) will soon close the temporary floating bridge which connects Bopkhel to Khadki, the alternate route after it earlier closed down road passing through its campus in Dapodi.
Now again the people residing in Bopkhel, Ramnagar and Ganeshnagar, will have to take a detour of 15 km to reach Dapodi on the old Pune-Mumbai Highway. In May, the issue of closure of Bopkhel road by CME had taken a violent turn during protest when police had resorted to mild lathicharge after stones were thrown at them and villagers forced their entry in CME. At least 25 police personnel and 50 villagers were injured in the incident.
In a statement issued through Defence public relations officer, the CME said that the bridge is ‘draining’ its manpower due to maintenance work. Also the bridge is required for training purpose, as the reason for ‘delaunching’ of the bridge from the present location.
The temporary bridge was constructed in June and 12 Army jawans are deployed there to keep a watch.
According to CME, the access road to the residents of Bhopkhel to Dapodi passing through College of Military Engineering (CME) is constructed on A1 defence land and was allowed to be used in the past by the residents, in a restricted and controlled manner, on humanitarian grounds when the population of Bhopkhel was a few hundreds only. The population has since increased manifold and is presently approximately twenty thousand and growing. A Writ Petition was filed in the Mumbai High Court in 2011 by Srirang Dyanoba Dhodade for allowing the unrestricted use of the road by the residents which was overruled by the Bombay High Court. The High Court, in its order dated 21 Apr 2014 has stated that “No road to be allowed to be constructed or no right of way can be granted to anyone to pass through the land in possession of CME”.
Accordingly, CME authorities closed the road with effect from 12 May 2015 being security vulnerability in the present day scenario. “However, the CME authorities, on their part, took the initiative for the welfare of local population and constructed a temporary floating bridge across Mula river, connecting Bhopkhel village with Khadki including temporary alignment and improvements to its entry and exit. This is presently being used extensively by the residents. However, the bridge is a critical training resource and would need to be utilised frequently for training purposes as well. Besides, maintenance of the Bridge is a considerable drain on manpower and hence, will soon need to be delaunched,” the statement reads.
CME officials further said that the prime responsibility of providing alternate access is that of the Collector and PCMC as per the orders of the High Court dated 21 Apr 2015 and 14 Aug 2015. This was also reiterated in the hearing on 29 Sep 2015, in which the High Court dismissed the Rule for the interim relief for providing the alternate access. It is expected that PCMC will soon create an alternate access for the residents.
The Ammunition Factory Khadki (AFK) has also opposed the bridge, which uses its land, saying it possesses threat to the factory as well as 512 Army Base Workshop.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar during his visit to Pune has said that defence authorities will extend all support for an alternative route. But the villagers are now caught between two defence establishments who don’t want to give passage due to ‘security’ reasons.
Sandip Ghule, an auto driver, said, “Many kids have shifted school from Dapodi to Khadki. Now again they will have to think of an alternative”.
Many youths working IT companies in Hinjewadi are also facing the heat as companies have stopped providing cab services after the road closure. “Either I have to travel by my vehicle or travel to nearest point from which company provides the cab services,” said Indrajit, who works with a reputed IT firm in the Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park in Hinjewadi.
Sudhir, who runs SKS mobile shop in Ganeshnagar, said, “Pahale dapodi se rasta band hua. Ab khadki ka bhi band ho jayega to hum logo ke kaam kaaj me bahut pareshani hogi. Mera mobile shop hai mujhe market barabar jana hota hai ab rasta hi nahi rahega to hum kaise rojgar karenge. Ab jane ke liye 5-7 km extra wala rasta lena hoga. Ye hum logo ke liye bhut bura hai.”