Pune: Indrayani River Pollution Sparks Concerns in Alandi Ahead of Palkhi Ceremony

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Reported by Varad Bhatkhande

Alandi, 24th June 2024: With the famous Palkhi Ceremony in the Pune District just around the corner, concerns are rising as the Indrayani River in Alandi continues to suffer from severe pollution. This morning, pollution levels were visibly high, with foam seen near the river basin close to the Shree Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Samadhi Mandir, a significant spot where numerous Warkaris bathe out of devotion. Just two days ago, the trustees of Alandi had warned of a potential agitation over this issue.

The Indrayani River has long been plagued by pollution, with administrative efforts to address the problem appearing inadequate. Despite promises from the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Eknath Shinde, to clean up the river, visible improvements have yet to materialize. The river, frequently seen with foam indicative of chemical pollution, remains in a dire state just five days before Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj’s Palkhi is scheduled to depart from Alandi on June 29th.

The trustees of Alandi have expressed increasing frustration over the continued pollution, raising the issue in multiple meetings with the Collector and sending several letters to the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) and the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC). They allege that the administration is conveniently ignoring their concerns.

According to a Punekar News report dated 3rd January 2024, the severe pollution in the Indrayani River is attributed to untreated sewage, industrial discharges, improper waste disposal, agricultural and urban runoff, and encroachments. Inadequate infrastructure and lax regulation enforcement exacerbate the problem, leading to health issues, disrupted ecosystems, and compromised cultural heritage. Despite directives from authorities to stop sewage discharge and improve wastewater management, the pollution persists. A lack of coordination and ongoing blame-shifting between the PCMC, PMRDA, and Alandi Municipal Council further impede effective solutions, leaving residents to suffer the consequences. As the river enters Alandi, it hits an embankment, and the polluted water creates a whitish foam as it falls, highlighting the extent of the contamination.

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Efforts to gather information on pollution prevention measures before the Palkhi Sohla begins were unsuccessful, as Kailas Kendre, CEO of Alandi Municipal Council, was unavailable for comment.