Pune: CM Eknath Shinde’s Promises Fall Flat as Indrayani River Pollution Reappears

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Reported By Varad Bhatkhande

Alandi, 5th July 2024: The Palkhi Ceremony procession of Jagatguru Sant Tukaram Maharaj from Dehu and Sant Shreshta Dnyaneshwar Maharaj from Alandi has departed for Pandharpur. However, shortly after their departure, the holy Indrayani River, which flows through both Dehu and Alandi, showed signs of pollution with the reappearance of foam, caused by chemicals mixing with the water. Despite the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) deploying three vigilance teams to prevent sewage contamination and monitor pollution, it remains unclear how the foam reappeared.

Even before the onset of the Asadhi Wari, the Indrayani River exhibited heavy foaming due to chemical pollutants, visible across its entire stretch. In response to the dissatisfaction expressed by Warkaris, authorities released water from the Andra Valley Dam and Vadiwale Dam, temporarily mitigating the pollution. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Eknath Shinde, who visited Alandi on the day of the Palkhi Ceremony procession, promised measures to restore the Indrayani River to a pollution-free state. However, subsequent sightings of foam indicate ongoing challenges.

The Indrayani River originates in Kurwande village near Lonavala and flows through Dehu, Alandi, and numerous villages and towns. A 19 km segment of the river passes through Pimpri-Chinchwad city, receiving chemical-laden water from industrial estates, untreated discharge from factories along its banks, and silty water from surrounding villages. Solid and plastic waste, along with garbage, are dumped, exacerbating river pollution and endangering aquatic life while also posing health risks to residents.

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has issued notices to Municipal Councils and Gram Panchayats in the area, holding them accountable for river pollution. These bodies are accused of failing to upgrade Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) and allowing contaminated water to flow into the river. Recent notices have been issued to the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), Talegaon Dabhade Municipal Council, and Vadgaon Nagar Panchayat. Despite these actions by the MPCB, concrete steps to address the issue appear lacking.

Three teams, each comprising six members, were tasked with preventing sewage entry into the river and monitoring polluters by the MPCB. However, they have yet to determine the source of the foam’s recurrence. MPCB Regional Officer Ravindra Andhale was unavailable to comment when approached for clarification.

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Alleging negligence by authorities for the river’s deteriorating state, a protest was staged in Alandi by the Mahavikas Aghadi. Warkaris and students participated in this demonstration.